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Businesses in Newville eager to hit new road

Parking on the main streets of Newville, few people linger
at the side of their cars.

Parking on the main streets of Newville, few people linger
at the side of their cars.

That’s because this borough of about 1,300 people in western
Cumberland County has narrow streets and a lot of
traffic such as large trucks, buses and cars that routinely hit signs, other
cars and light poles at the town’s main intersection. 

Business owners said they’ll be happy when a connector road
is built in West Pennsboro Township,
just south of the borough. That road will offer an alternate route to divert
some traffic.

While less traffic might sound like a bad thing for the
small restaurants, hair salons and professional services that make up
Newville’s business community, businesspeople said too much traffic is as
detrimental as not enough.

“There’s nowhere for trucks to turn in this town, left or
right,” said Jeffrey Bouder, owner of Jeffrey L. Bouder Insurance Agency, whose
office sits on South High Street, only half a block from the Newville square.
That’s where state Routes 641 and 233 intersect.

It’s also where large trucks get stuck trying to turn, said
Maria Basile, owner of Pinos Pizza on the square. She watches poles get
splintered and bent and traffic back up as trucks are guided back onto the
street.

Basile didn’t think the traffic reductions would hurt
business, and she’s more concerned with other issues. High traffic and large
trucks are dangerous to the children who regularly walk to school and around
town, she said.

 “(The connector road)
could be good,” Basile said, “but the town needs more improvements.”

The problem is that the roads are too narrow, and there’s
not much the borough can do to remediate the problem, said Fred Potzer,
Newville’s manager. Due to the borough’s age and history, buildings on the
square are close to the road with minimal sidewalk space.

The new road, which the township could begin building this
summer if funding comes through, will divert some traffic coming north on Route
233 or west on Route 641. The goal is to reduce congestion in Newville, said
John Epley, West Pennsboro’s manager.

Plans call for the new road to connect Route 233 with Mount Rock Road
near Big Spring High School. Sidewalks, a path and
parking lot are planned, Epley said.

The project would cost slightly more than $2.6 million for 1
mile of road, he said. The township has applied for grant money through the
state’s Community Transportation Initiative, which is offering $60 million to
municipalities to improve roads and other transportation infrastructure.

Part of the reason for the project is that traffic is
expected to increase to a point that would make Newville’s streets nearly
impassable at peak traffic hours, Epley said. The Western Cumberland County
Council of Governments
(WCCOG) commissioned a study in 2006 with the East Pennsboro
Township office of Trans
Associates Engineering Consultants Inc.
, a Pittsburgh-based engineering firm.
The study found traffic could increase from 8,800 vehicles a day in 2006 to
40,000 a day in 10 years.

How traffic affects business is not always a clear-cut
issue, said Michelle Crowley, president of the Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of
Commerce
.

It depends on the type of business, the products and their
availability at other places within a reasonable distance, she said. Traffic
reductions can hurt retailers that rely on walk-in traffic, but not services.

On the other hand, if traffic is clogging a town, some
people might choose to go elsewhere for dinner, she said.

“If you’re waiting on traffic, are you really going to pull
over and get something to eat?” Crowley
asked. “When you’re late, you’re late. You’re not going to do that.”

Newville’s government favors the road. The borough sent a
letter Dec. 2 to West Pennsboro supporting the
road plan.

The township received several letters of support, Epley
said. They include one from Big
Spring School District,
the WCCOG and state Sen. Patricia Vance (R-Cumberland).

The plan does not call for rerouting all traffic around
Newville, which was never the intention, Epley said. This is just an effort to
deal with the growing population in the area, he said.

“West Pennsboro is a growing community, and we’re going to
continue to grow because all the development pressure is coming west from Carlisle,” Epley said. “And we’re right between Carlisle and Newville.”

Diverting some traffic sounds like a great idea, said Cindy
Swarner, office manager and tax adviser for the H&R Block franchise in
Newville, but diverting it all could harm some businesses.

“I think that would be a wait-and-see, but I hope it
wouldn’t be a big difference,” she said. “Newville is a great town, and I’d
hate to see it be a detriment.

Diverting traffic might help the borough by giving people
peace of mind while walking around the borough, Bouder said. And foot traffic
is good for businesses like the restaurants in Newville, he said.

“As a business owner and a parent who lives downtown,” he said,
“I’d prefer they reroute it.”


New road could benefit developer

If West Pennsboro Township
constructs a connector road just south of Newville, Cumberland County,
there’s a bonus for one developer that’s been sitting on plans for two years.

The road would offer a piece of the puzzle for Carroll Township, York County-based builder
Harry H. Fox Jr., said township manager John Epley.

The connector road would offer more road frontage to the
property that Fox wants to develop, Epley said, and reduce the private road the
builder has to construct.

“He’s a businessman, and if he were looking to the future,
he would definitely see a benefit. But that’s not the intention,” he said.

The proposed 1 mile road would connect State Route 233 with Mount Rock Road to
the east, offering an alternate route around Newville for Big Spring High School
events, as well as diverting other traffic. The project is expected to reduce
traffic on Newville’s narrow downtown streets.

“We’re anticipating it might be a benefit, but without a
final plan we can’t say for sure,” said Pat McKonly, a subdivision coordinator
for the developer.

Fox proposed a 180-lot development on about 80 acres off
Route 233, McKonly said. The project is in a holding pattern, he said. Issues
with recreation land for the township and PennDOT requirements held up the
project, McKonly said.

Fox agreed to cooperate with the township on the road
project, which would cut through part of the land he wants to develop, McKonly
said.

The land is zoned for high-density residential, Epley said.
The township approved Fox’s preliminary plans in 2005, but he has not yet
submitted further plans for the development. Fox has until 2010 to submit a
final plan, Epley said.

“It’s our inclination to do it just right,” McKonly said,
“instead of hurrying it along.”

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