PennDOT looking at 150 miles of bike trails on Rt. 6

PennDOT is aiming to improve “bicycle safety, accessibility and connectivity” along Route 6.

And a set of guidelines — put together in the form of a design guide — describe how to do it along 150 miles of Route 6 and 6N from the Ohio border to the McKean/Potter county line.

PennDOT released the design guide on Monday, which spells out specific improvements that both PennDOT and municipal agencies can “use when planning and designing future multimodal transportation projects,” according to a release from PennDOT.

“The report was the result of several stakeholder and public meetings as well as extensive data collection on existing conditions, infrastructure and safety, environmentally and historically significant features and previous plans our studies related to the route,” PennDOT said.

One of those stakeholder meetings was held at the Warren County Visitors Bureau office last October.

Youngsville Borough and Warren County were specifically mentioned as partners and participating agencies in the crafting of the report.

The guide’s executive summary identifies several barriers to meeting the objective of the guide — bridges and underpasses, shoulder conditions, traffic and road safety as well as a lack of bicycle facilities and signage and reiterates that the guide is “intended to provide guidance for targeted proposed improvements.”

At the municipal level, the guide identifies wayfinding signage — signage that directs people from the main road to an area’s amenities as well as some road markings as specific project ideas.

As Route 6 is a state highway, the guide acknowledges that the big ticket items — some signage, bridge repairs and replacements, shoulder repairs and rumble strip modifications would fall on PennDOT.

The guide calls for 205 lane miles of shoulder expansion, 13 miles of shoulder repair and guide rail modifications to 42 miles.

Specific criteria are recommended in each of those areas, including “shoulder widening to take place when existing shoulder widths are four feet are less. The amount of widening will be dependent on the existing road/shoulder and will be widened to five feet.”

All of the improvements in those 150 miles outlined are expected to cost a staggering $70.1 million but PennDOT noted that over half of that cost is for bridge replacements. The 6N piece in Erie County was estimated at $5.9 million.

But the effort wouldn’t be without potential reward as “multiple regional studies point to the PA Route 6 corridor as a regional economic priority, specifically for tourism activities,” according to the executive summary.

The PA Route 6 Alliance was heavily involved in the initiative.

“The PA Route 6 Alliance is grateful that PennDOT is taking a comprehensive look at U.S. Route 6 to improve the bicycling experience for both long-distance cyclists and our residents,” said Terri Dennison, the Alliance’s executive director. “This helps advance our efforts to enhance outdoor recreation and bring new visitors to our communities.

“We are looking forward to assisting in the implementation of the recommendations, including wayfinding signage into our communities and hospitality training geared toward bike-friendly towns.”

“With the many scenic and historic opportunities along the route, we’re excited to outline strategies to help enhance safety and sustainable transportation, “ PennDOT Secretary Lisa Richards said. “Communities should see transportation networks as assets, and this report has some concrete recommendations to improve conditions for all travel modes in the area.”

PennDOT said two additional studies will be completed for the remaining portions of US 6 in Pennsylvania.