Construction on a portion of the fabled Lancaster County “goat path” kicked off on Monday as crews started the $22 million project in East Lampeter Township.
York-based Kinsley Construction began work on the Walnut Street Extension Project, conducting concrete roadway widening and median replacement on Route 23 between the eastbound and westbound ramps to Route 30, connecting the roadway to Greenfield.
PennDOT said in a news release that the first stage of the project is expected to be completed by Oct. 28, and a long-term lane restriction of one lane of traffic in each direction will remain in place in both directions of Route 23.
Completion of the project, scheduled for November of 2023, will mark the first use of motorized vehicles on the goat path since it was abandoned by PennDOT in the late 1970s. The goat path marks a 5-mile section of the 11-mile bypass project of Route 23 connecting eastern Lancaster City to New Holland.
PennDOT spent more than $9 million to acquire the rights-of-way, build several bridges, do grading and lay the roadbed before money ran out to complete it in 1977. Grass was planted on the abandoned roadway, and portions were leased back to farmers for animal grazing.
The current project includes extending Walnut Street as a new 1.2-mile two-lane road from the Route 30 interchange to a roundabout intersection with an extension of Ben Franklin Boulevard connecting to Greenfield Road.
The plan also calls for building a new 167-foot-long, 54-foot-wide steel bridge over Millcross Road and the construction of a 1.2-mile section of the Greater Lancaster Heritage Pathway (GLHP) just to the east of the new road, accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists.
The GLHP is a long-term proposal to serve as a commuter and recreational route for bicyclists and pedestrians, going over 12 miles and following the original plans for the goat path. A trail head with parking facilities is planned for the area behind the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in East Lampeter Township.
“East Lampeter Township’s Board of Supervisors continues to support both the GLHP and the Walnut Street Extension as alternative solutions for commuters as a true multi-modal opportunity,” the board said in a press release regarding the projects. “The Board of Supervisors of East Lampeter Township are excited about the public benefits that these combined projects will provide our community.”