City to extend sidewalks along North Hermitage Road

May 6—HERMITAGE — Local residents, especially students, will be able to walk between Hermitage schools and the Valley YMCA, thanks to a planned sidewalk extension of more than a quarter mile made possible by state funds.

State officials announced Thursday that the city of Hermitage received a $392,583 Safe Routes to Schools grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The Safe Routes to Schools project will add about 1,100 feet of sidewalk. It will fill a gap from Highland Road, where the Hickory High School and the elementary school complex are located, along the west side of North Hermitage Road (state Route 18) to just past the Valley YMCA, Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson said.

"We've been working on expanding the pedestrian facilities and multi-modal options for transportation, and this grant was appropriate for us to put in that missing piece," Hinkson said.

Depending on how much engineering work has already been done, Hinkson said he expected the project to be completed later this year, with "minimal" impact on traffic along the five-lane stretch of highway.

Hinkson thanked state Rep. Parke Wentling (R-7, Hempfield Township) and state Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50, Jamestown) for continuing to support the city's projects and for helping to secure the grant funds for this project.

A blacktopped pedestrian trail already runs along that stretch on the other side of the busy highway, and some sidewalks exist on west side north of the YMCA along the Hermitage Gastroenterology Clinic, the Golden Corral restaurant and Walmart properties.

The funds were issued through PennDOT's Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program, the releases state. The program works to improve the accessibility of biking and walking paths and amenities, pedestrian access to public transportation, community improvement activities, environmental mitigation projects and trails.

"Adding this vital new sidewalk access is going to safely increase opportunities for our school kids to participate in the many activities found at the Shenango Valley YMCA. These include indoor and outdoor youth recreation programs, indoor basketball, fitness/strength training, outdoor soccer, baseball and football," Brooks said in the release.

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