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George Street construction plans in the works

Sean Philip Cotter
505-5437/@SPCotterYD
  • Plans would make George Street in York City one lane in either direction.
  • Work on this project is likely around two years away from beginning.

York County planners on Thursday will discuss a proposal to convert George Street in York City to one lane in each direction.

From left, Steve Yde, of Sterling, Illinois, Aaron McKenzie, of Los Angeles, and Troy Alfke, of Milwaukee, carry pizza from DiCarlo's for their co-workers Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, near Continental Square. Due to the complaints about the lanes being too narrow, a plan to convert the roadway to a single lane in both directions is under consideration. Amanda J. Cain photo

Will Clark, chief of transportation planner for the county's planning commission, will present the idea to the York Area Metropolitan Planning Organization at 120 Davies Drive in Springettsbury Township at 9 a.m. Thursday.

That organization, which checks to make sure state roadwork is being coordinated and carried out appropriately in the county, will then vote on whether to give a preliminary OK to the construction plans, which still would be likely a couple of years away from starting.

Crews would fully resurface all of George Street between Parkway Boulevard and Rathton Road. The width of the road would stay the same — they're not talking about narrowing it or widening it, he said.

But then, with the pavement  a literal and figurative clean slate, the plan would be to change how the road is laned. Aside from the intersections, which would largely continue to have an additional turning lane, the plan would make the primary north-south road in York City one lane in either direction.

Clark said this would mainly affect the southbound traffic on the northern half of that stretch. Currently, cars coming south from north of the city drive on a road that changes from one to two lanes, which encourages people to speed up and try to pass each other, he said.

"It becomes a little bit of a higher-speed area there," he said.

So this would cut down on that, in an area that Clark said has more pedestrians and cyclists struck than many other parts of the county. It also will  allow the county to add more of a pedestrian and cyclist walkway on the eastern side of the bridge that carries the road over the Codorus Creek. This would become part of the York County Heritage Rail Trail, as it extends north in the coming years and would also help with foot traffic for York Revolution games at the nearby PeoplesBank Park, Clark said.

He  said the road is in increasingly rough shape. On the International Roughness Index, which measures "the smoothness of your ride," he said, it rates pretty poorly, so the road is in need of a resurfacing.

Clark also said the narrowness of the road's lanes around the downtown area play into the decision to make this proposal. Sometimes, he acknowledged, it's hard for cars to drive side by side around the 200 block of North Philadelphia Street, for example, he said.

"It creates additional distractions for drivers," he said.

At this point, it appears that changes to parking would be minimal. The lanes at intersections would change some, with southbound George Street having left-turn-only lanes onto King and Market, where right now cars can turn left or go straight from the left lane in both cases. This plan would add a left-turn-only lane for northbound traffic at Philadelphia Street. As it stands, it's illegal to turn left from George onto Philly.

Clark told The York Dispatch on Wednesday that the project is estimated to cost around $3 million.

George Street is owned by the city within the city limits, but it's a state road, and work on it could be paid for with state funding, Clark said, though that would mean waiting at least a couple of years until the next time the county has the chance to ask for such money. It could come from other sources, too — for example, it's not unusual for the municipality, in this case York City, to pay for the design work, which is usually around 15 percent of the total budget, he said. That's what happened with a Market Street project last summer.

About 18,000 vehicles travel on the northern part of George Street every day, with that number dropping farther south along the road, Clark said. It's unclear at this point how the construction would work, logistically — he said officials likely will  take some of the lessons they learned from the Market Street project last year.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.