Presentation spells out vision for comprehensive bike and pedestrian networks04/25/2023 02:40PM ● By Richard Gaw
Photo courtesy of Bike Kennett Planning Kennett Connections, introduced on April 19 at the Kennett Township Building, is exploring the potential of developing a transportation link between Kennett Township, Kennett Borough and East Marlborough Township through pedestrian and bike trails.
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Over the past decade – through the vision and ingenuity of individuals and agencies -- southern Chester County has evolved into a vast network of pathways and routes traversed by foot and by bike for the health and enjoyment of its residents.
While definitive on their own, these tributaries exist mostly as separate entities, but a long-term plan now underway aims to connect many of them together.
In her presentation before the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors on April 19, Natasha Manbeck, a senior project manager for McMahon Associates, Inc., introduced Planning Kennett Connections, a study that is exploring the potential of developing a permanent link between Kennett Township, Kennett Borough and East Marlborough Township at three key areas:
· Eastern area: Establish connections to the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway and the Kennett Bikeway on Route 52
· Northwestern area: Establish connections to Unionville, Willowdale, and Unionville Road (Route 82)
· Western area: Establish connections to downtown Kennett Square, Anson B. Nixon Park and the Kennett Greenway
Being developed through a consulting team made up of representatives from McMahon Associates, Inc., Biohabitats and Unknown Studio, the 80-page report – a year in the making – is being funded by Longwood Gardens, Chester County’s Vision Partnership Program and matching municipal funds, and is partnering with a steering committee made up of members from the three municipalities and the Kennett Trails Alliance, the Chester County Planning Commission and Longwood Gardens.
The mission of Planning Kennett Connections will be to create vital connections through the use of active transportation – biking and walking -- said Manbeck, who is the project manager for the project. Its key goals will be to:
· Improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities
· Increase bicycle and pedestrian access between key destinations such as parks, schools, downtowns and villages, commercial and employment areas, and Longwood Gardens
· Provide a range of options for biking and walking that fulfill the different needs and abilities of users, particularly those that lack access to a private vehicle; reflect the unique character of the Kennett Square region; expand access to parks, trails, and other recreational resources to support healthy communities; and offer aesthetics treatments and amenities to encourage use
· Expand connections to the regional bikeway and trail network, including the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway, the Kennett Bikeway and the Kennett Greenway and
· Coordinate among partners to plan, expand, and promote the area’s active transportation network
“How do you connect the Kennett Bikeway on Route 52 and Hamorton to Longwood Gardens?” Manbeck said. “How do you connect Kennett Square Borough to Longwood Gardens and how do you connect Unionville to both Kennett Square Borough and Longwood Gardens?
“The vision of the project is to establish connections that allow residents and visitors of all abilities to safely reach destinations by walking and biking. Bicyclists and pedestrians are very different and as a result, we need different types of facilities to support the needs, ability levels and interests of the wide range of bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The types of “trails” along this connected network will include shared-use or multi-use paths, pedestrian-only paths, sidewalks and foot paths, and contain a “toolbox” of indicators that provide appropriate signage designation for each. Other roadway treatments could include improvements at intersections, crossings, shoulder improvements, speed enforcements, lighting, streetscape amenities, interpretive signage, bicycle parking and fix-it stations, as well as routine and regular roadway maintenance, including street sweeping and clearing.
Creating a spine network
Pointing to a map providing an overview of current connections during her presentation, Manbeck said the existing infrastructure is “limited, isolated and disconnected.”
“Aside from a sidewalk network in Kennett Square Borough, there aren’t a lot of connected trails or sidewalks within the region,” she said.
A possible solution will be to create a “spine network” that will connect Unionville, Kennett Square and Longwood Gardens, and Kennett Township to Longwood Gardens by way of the Kennett Bikeway on Route 52. Manbeck said that implementation of the entire Kennett Connections plan – if and when it occurs – will be in a phased approach, and focus on nine potential “catalyst locations” that will build the spine network:
- Pedestrian connections at the URA ballfield in Unionville
- A sidewalk along Route 82 near Unionville Elementary School
- A shared-use path along Route 82 near Unionville Middle and Unionville high schools
- A shared-use path from Lily Lane to Anson B. Nixon Park
- A shared-use path from Schoolhouse Road to Bancroft Road
- A shared-use path along Millers Hill and Cypress Street between Mcfarlan Road and Walnut Street
- An off-road path along Longwood Road and Schoolhouse Road
- Sidewalks along Route 1 that provide pedestrian access to the Shoppes of Longwood Village and
- A shared-use path from Route 82 to Longwood Gardens
Manbeck said that before any shovel hits the ground of Kennett Connections, the project report will need to go through further feasibility evaluation, detailed engineering, permitting, property owner coordination and utility coordination. Eventual implementation will rely heavily on the ability to secure project funding and resources that would come from federal, state and local levels.
The report is available to the public by visiting www.kennectivity.com/planning-kennett-connections, where public comments can be submitted before June 16. The final report will then be submitted to Chester County for Vision Partnership (VPP) for review, and then presented in final form to the governing bodies of the three municipalities for additional comment in August or September.
The presentation will also be held on May 1 at the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors meeting, beginning at 7:00 p.m., and on June 7 at the Kennett Borough Council Meeting, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
In other township business
The board approved the township’s advertisement of its ordinance No. 301, amending the Kennett Township Police Department’s pension plan. The approval of the plan changes one detail in it -- the requirement of an officer to compile one year as a full-time member in the department before he/she can begin accruing years of service toward his/her pension.
The board also agreed to join Kennett Borough Council in creating a letter in support of the Kennett Bike Park project. Currently underway, the project involves the installation and eventual maintenance of a bike park on what is known as the “Parrish property” on West State Street in the Kennett Borough. Developed by volunteers, the project calls for the installation of a pump track, pervious mountain bike trails and pollinator plantings.
Public Works Director Ted Otteni announced that the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Spar Hill Farm will be held on May 13.
In other Public Works news, the department has rented a Hydradig excavator for a month to perform sight distance and drainage improvements throughout the township. Recently, the excavator was used to flatten the embankment at the intersection of Hannum Drive and Rosedale Road in order to improve sight distance when pulling out of Hannum Drive.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].