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Long-discussed connector road expected to boost Carlisle-area growth

For some reason lost to the engineering hall of shame, exits 48 and 49 off Interstate 81 outside Carlisle were designed and built as partial interchanges.

That means, for example, that southbound drivers can exit at Exit 49 but must find their way to Exit 48 for any return trip via I-81 north. To make matters worse, there’s no easy route, or signage, linking the exits.

One possible reason for the partial exits is that designers then could not foresee development stretching the nearly 2 miles from downtown Carlisle out to I-81.

That day arrived several years ago, and township and county officials since then have searched for ways to make the exits more functional for ever-increasing traffic.

The most popular option to emerge from those discussions is a connector road. First discussed several years ago as part of a development project in South Middleton Township, the idea has been revived by developer Steven Rose.

Rose is the private half of a public-private partnership with the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., which helped him secure a $2.6 million state grant. CAEDC submitted land development plans for the road last week to South Middleton officials for their approval. The township planning commission will make a recommendation on the road plans, with supervisors having the final say.

A longtime South Middleton businessman, Rose has purchased several properties between York and Trindle roads and has long-term development plans in mind. But unlike developers who preceded him, he is offering to build the road first rather than in conjunction with his project.

“The connector road is really going to leverage a lot of private development eventually,” Rose said. “But because the connector road is the first step, we need to get that solved first.”

The Rose Business Park/Heritage Village plan is being developed with a partner who is remaining in the background for now. The Rose/Heritage plan will add about $1.9 million in local tax revenue and 1,521 permanent jobs after build out, said Jonathan Bowser, president and CEO of CAEDC. Total economic impact from the project would be an estimated $108 million.

 

No specifics yet

Rose declined to talk specifics about any long-term plans. Rose Business Park is sited on approximately 50 acres of farmland zoned light industrial. Heritage Village is approximately 400 residential units, in addition to a commercial component, on about 54 acres zoned for retail and office.

“My intentions with the project were to bring about a solution to the transportation problem first,” said Rose, who owns Rose Metal Systems, a metal building supply company on Trindle Road. “Then, in due time, find ways to market the property.”

The proposed connector road will be nearly 1 mile long and run through the property to be developed. It will begin at 1745 W. Trindle Road to the north and connect with York Road midway between Fairview Street and Mayapple Drive. Rose estimates the cost at about $5 million, with the developers kicking in about half.

It will include an 8-foot-wide path for bikers and walkers, Rose said.

“I think it will help economic development for several reasons,” said South Middleton Supervisor Tom Faley. “This will be far more efficient. You’ll get better traffic flow from all directions.”

Part of the problem is that none of the roads connecting York and Trindle are meant for heavy travel, said Kirk Stoner, Cumberland County planning director. Fairview Street is a residential street, while the Westminster Drive extension through the adjacent Carlisle Commons shopping center is a winding road.

The new connector road is expected to be a straight road capable of handling high volumes.

“That connection is needed so we get adequate traffic flow,” Stoner said. “If you’re going to have that type of intense development that far from the interchange, you’re going to need that kind of a north-south connector.”

While South Middleton officials have tried to control development at various areas of the township that border Carlisle, Faley said residents “seem to be resigned to understanding that something is going to have to go in there” between York and Trindle roads.

The state grant came via multimodal transportation funding through the state Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Rose hopes to begin road construction by the end of this year.

The entire article can be found in Central Penn Business Journal.

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