Dauphin County looks to make communities walkable

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Several Midstate communities are not exactly walkable and it’s got local government wanting to do something about it.

Leaders say sidewalks are a way to keep residents, boost the economy, and offer more choices.

Derry Township serves an example of the old mentality versus new mentality.

The old mentality is the sidewalk that doesn’t go anywhere. The new mentality is the path that actually connects people to important parts of the community.

Dauphin County is already taking active steps toward seeing more of the new and less of the old.

Penn State Harrisburg student Leola Lee says it’s a scary commute but she doesn’t have a choice when walking down busy roads.

“I don’t have a vehicle. So I have to walk. If I want to get to work, I have to get there some way, somehow”

“My coworkers drive me home so I don’t have to walk home at nighttime. And there have been plenty of times I almost got hit walking across the street on that road up there,” says Lee.

Leola’s problem isn’t new but the solutions are.

“Development patterns we’ve had over the past 60 years have led us to focus more on the cars than the people.” says Dauphin County planning coordinator Leah Eppinger.

Eppinger says sidewalk requirements were waived to encourage business development and now communities are paying for it.

Wednesday, Derry Township voted to require fees from businesses wanting their sidewalks waived. It’s supposed to help the township cover the costs of putting sidewalks in other needed places.

Still, it’s not only a matter of sidewalks. It’s also about type, location, and upkeep. That’s why East Hanover, Susquehanna, Swatara, and Lower Swatara Townships, along with Middletown say their sidewalk efforts are taking more time.

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