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Greensburg shares update on bike-lane connectors to Five Star Trail

Jacob Tierney
gtrgbgtrails031216
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
A cyclist rides along the Five Star Trail in Greensburg on March 11, 2016.

Road improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians were the focus of a public meeting this week outlining Greensburg’s goal of making it easier to travel from Seton Hill University, through the city’s health care district and downtown, to the Five Star Trail.

The public meeting was held to update the community on the early stages of a traffic study that will be used to determine the best path to achieving the city’s goal.

“The goal of this traffic study is to make those connections between your neighborhoods and those wonderful facilities,” Greensburg Planning Director Barbara Ciampini said.

The study is focusing on the health care district, which is comprised of the neighborhoods surrounding Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. The district’s residents received letters and emails announcing the public meeting, and more than 30 showed up at city hall Thursday.

“The days are long gone when transportation only meant cars,” said Cindy Jampole, an engineer with Trans Associates, the Pittsburgh company doing the study.

Trans Associates is measuring Greensburg’s traffic patterns, the volume of cars, walkers and bikers at the city’s intersections, the topography and condition of the streets.

“We can’t touch and change one thing without affecting others,” Jampole said. “We need to look at this as a complete system, rather than isolated spots.”

The study will cost about $54,000. PennDOT is footing 80 percent of the bill, with the Greensburg Community Development Corp. picking up the rest.

Residents questioned officials about the plan, wanting to know things like whether bike lanes would eliminate parking spaces. They wanted assurances that connections with the Five Star Trail would not involve crossing active rail lines and asked whether the proposed trail would link to places such as the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and Westmoreland Mall.

Some were just happy the conversation about improving nonmotorized travel was happening.

“I think all of this is just so needed and wonderful,” said resident Demetra Czegan, who often rides on the Five Star Trail. “I would just love to see Greensburg be more bike-friendly.”

Ciampini and Jampole said it is too early to know specifics, but connections to places outside the city limits, like the mall and Pitt Greensburg, are unlikely in the short term because the plan is focused on a few specific neighborhoods. But they said the ideas would be worth looking into later.

If all goes according to schedule, the company will finish collecting data for the study by mid-May. It will present a plan for how to improve the city’s walking and biking routes to city council in September.

Jampole said any plan needs to be a balancing act that keeps bikers, pedestrians, residents and motorists happy.

“We can’t add so many amenities that cars can’t get through, but we can do better than what’s there now,” she said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].

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