FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
YORK, PA – Federal, state and local officials gathered Friday afternoon to break ground on the third phase of the York County Heritage Rail Trail’s Northern Extension, signaling the latest step forward in the creation of a new northern gateway to Downtown York.
The $2.1 million trail extension will follow the Codorus Creek 1.1 miles south from U.S. Route 30 in Springettsbury Township to North George Street near Smalls Athletic Field, located on the City of York’s northern limits.
Once the next phase is complete, users walking or biking the trail southward will eventually find themselves along Downtown York’s North George Street corridor, where tens of millions of dollars of investment over the past decade have remade several blocks of Downtown York.
Led by the York County Rail Trail Authority, which is managing the next phase of the Northern Extension, local officials and dignitaries on Friday enjoyed a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the project’s advancement.
“After we complete this phase of the Northern Extension, just eight blocks will separate York County from enjoying a Rail Trail that stretches more than 25 miles from the Mason-Dixon Line, through historic Downtown York and to the beautiful John C. Rudy County Park,” said Carl Knoch, Chair of the York County Rail Trail Authority. “For years, we’ve imagined the beautiful and scenic Northern Extension connecting with the vibrant City of York. With today’s groundbreaking, we are close to making that vision a reality.”
Construction is scheduled to run from June through December. The new portion of the trail will run south along the Codorus Creek’s west bank to the intersection of North George Street and Hamilton Avenue in York. A bridge will be installed over Willis Run where the stream flows into the Codorus Creek.
In addition to the trail, the project will include construction of a ramp at the Route 30 and Loucks Mill Road parking lot to connect the trail to the south walkway of the Route 30 bridge.
By the time the trail extension is complete, York Academy Regional Charter School will have opened its new upper school on North George Street, taking the place of the razed Pensupreme dairy complex. The 65,000-square-foot school will house students in grades 8-12.
Across the street, Keystone Kidspace will transform the historic former National Guard Armory into a maker’s space for children. Educational programming will cover the arts, science, technology and engineering, all while providing a fun family attraction perfect for Rail Trail users.
Both the school and Keystone Kidspace will join PeoplesBank Park, the $31 million professional baseball stadium that’s home to the Atlantic League Champion York Revolution, as anchors of the North George Street corridor. The stadium opened in 2007 and kicked off a decade of reinvestment.
While the corridor grows, coming improvements to North George Street will calm traffic and make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists using the Rail Trail. Repaving will improve conditions for motorists, and a traffic signal will move from Jefferson Avenue to Hamilton Avenue to accommodate the new high school.
“As thousands of people enjoy the beautiful York County Heritage Rail Trail, they will also see firsthand the tangible evidence of York’s revitalization,” said Eric Menzer, Downtown Inc Board Member and President of the York Revolution. “The Northern Extension will provide not only an excellent recreational amenity, but a new green path into Downtown York’s dynamic new northern gateway.”
The project has broad financial support from federal, state and local levels, as well as public and private contributors.
Funding sources for the latest phase of the Northern Extension include the Federal Lands Access Program, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). Additional funders include the Codorus Watershed Endowment, the York County Community Foundation and the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Many private citizens who love the Rail Trail have also invested in its growth.
Downtown Inc, York’s downtown improvement organization, will work with the City of York next year to complete the final leg of the York County Heritage Rail Trail, connecting the Northern Extension with the current trailhead by West Philadelphia Street and Pershing Avenue.
The trail will then travel through revitalized Downtown York, home to a creative culinary scene, modern new living options and history dating to the American Revolution.
Managed by the York County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Heritage Rail Trail has been a premier recreational amenity since its construction in 1999. A 2017 user survey and economic impact analysis indicates that the York County Heritage Rail Trail generated nearly 265,000 visits in 2017, driving between $3.5 million and $4.4 million into the local economy.
Downtown Inc is THE organization working to drive, enhance and encourage investment in York’s central business district through economic development, promotions, placemaking and public safety. Downtown Inc is the trade name for a joint venture between the York Business Improvement District Authority and Main Street York, a 501(c)(3) not for profit. Visit www.DowntownYorkPa.com for more information.
Gwen Loose, Executive Director, York County Rail Trail Authority, firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-428-0999
Andrew Staub, Marketing & Communications Manager, Downtown Inc, email@example.com, 717.849.2331 or 717-350-0962
Silas Chamberlin, Chief Executive Officer, Downtown Inc, firstname.lastname@example.org, 717.849.2331