The Commonwealth Financing Authority announced Tuesday it will be putting $900,000 toward road improvements on East Penn Drive in East Pennsboro Township.

Local officials gathered at Adams-Ricci Park to acknowledge the receipt of the grant from the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund. The grant will help pay for the creation of new traffic signals, sidewalks, park trails and a pedestrian bridge that will allow foot traffic to cross East Penn Drive by going over the roadway.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority was established in 2004 as an independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development to administer Pennsylvania’s economic stimulus packages.

The improvements will further be integrated into a private-sector development project planned for the area to the park’s southeast. The new trails and road improvements will link Adams-Ricci Park with a mixed-use project planned by developer 199 Associates.

The multimodal grant process is “very competitive,” said state Rep. Greg Rothman, with public officials and private backers having to submit a considerable amount of planning materials to the state financing authority in order to even apply.

“There are thousands of great projects that are submitted every year, and relatively few are picked,” Rothman said.

“It’s great when state and local government and the private sector come together on needed projects like this,” state Sen. Mike Regan said.

The park

Adams-Ricci Park is roughly 125 acres, spanning both sides of East Penn Drive. East Pennsboro Township purchased the land in pieces over a period of years, anticipating future growth in the area, said Cumberland County Commissioner and former East Pennsboro Supervisor Jim Hertzler.

“This brings to fruition something that’s been talked about for many years,” Hertzler said.

The project is anticipated to create several hundred jobs, said Cumberland County Commissioner Vince DiFilippo, both in construction as well as permanent positions in the commercial spaces that will be built.

The pedestrian bridge will also be a significant safety and traffic improvement, allowing pedestrians to access both sides of the park, as well as the new development to the south, without going onto the roadway.

“Public safety is a huge part of this,” East Pennsboro Supervisor George Tyson said.

The parcel being developed is roughly 100 acres just south of Adams-Ricci and north of the Highmark building, along the east side of East Penn Drive. Approximately 400 residential units are planned along with office and commercial space, according to John Murphy with 199 Associates.

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Cumberland County/Investigative Reporter

Reporter for The Sentinel.