Transportation committee updated on progress

The technical committee of the Williamsport Area Transportation Study was briefed Monday on much of the work going on in the county.

The Lycoming County Comprehensive Plan, which began over a year ago, included teams of advisers who met with municipalities and the public to hear what they thought were the dominating issues of their areas — many of them relevant to transportation.

The county is split into six major planning areas, and focus groups were held to directly speak to representatives of each area.

“The focus groups have provided some good dialogue to let the municipalities know and understand what’s affecting them positively and negatively,” said Kim Wheeler, deputy director of planning.

During the focus group meetings, municipalities learned how to prioritize what they wanted to accomplish by exploring their options and choosing five to 10 issues they wanted to tackle, Wheeler said.

Even though the Greater Williamsport Area doesn’t include the Williamsport Regional Airport, it was one of the prioritized issues, Wheeler said.

“They considered it so important they included it in their plan,” she said.

The Pathway to Health — a joint partnership between the city, the county and UPMC Susquehanna — was another top transportation issue for that area.

Phase III of the project with be constructed this summer, while Phase IV — including a gateway to the Historic District of the city — will be completed by the end of 2018.

Many of the municipalities recognized that the area east of Market Street is an area in need and available to be economically expanded, Wheeler said.

Some of the other priorities in the remaining areas of the plan included better coordination with the state to capitalize on projects on Route 15, the mobility of the Amish community and replacement of structurally deficient bridges.

Thomas Hart, executive director of the Williamsport Regional Airport, updated the rest of the committee on the progress of the new terminal building.

Bids were opened about two months ago and came in well within the estimates, Hart said.

Letters are pending approval by the state Department of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration, but the funding is on the way.

“We are breaking ground on the terminal building very shortly,” Hart said.

The committee also approved an amendment creating a bicycle and pedestrian subcommittee to serve as a resource for the voting board.

“They won’t be making decisions but will be a resource to us,” said Mark Murawski, county transportation supervisor.

By modifying a city vehicle code and amending existing articles, Williamsport City Council in May took steps to make the city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

“What they did is give equal rights to bicycles and pedestrians for sharing the street system,” Murawski said. “It’s a great start, but there are still a lot of steps to be taken.”

The sub-committee will be made up of members from throughout the county and will look into things such as improving connections to the Susquehanna River Walk.

“We thought there was enough going on with bicycles and pedestrians that we would expand it to us (the transportation study),” Murawski said.

Voting were Murawski, Carey Mullins, T. Jay Cunningham, Kurt Hausammann Jr., John Grado and Thomas Hart.

The sub-committee amendment will go to the coordination committee for official approval.

COMMENTS