Sidewalk to start after 13 months

Alyssa Coleman, News Editor

A sidewalk connecting areas in Richland Township is to be under construction this coming spring.

The sidewalk is part of the Pitt-Johnstown community initiative REACHland Connect, and is to not only include 3,400 feet of sidewalk, but also a 2,150-foot-long paved bike path.

The sidewalk’s groundbreaking took place May 18 at the Richland Town Centre parking lot entrance adjacent to Panera Bread.  

Phase one of the project, which is to connect Pitt-Johnstown and the College Park Apartments, Penn Highlands Community College and Richland Town Centre, was supposed to begin in September, but was delayed.

Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar announced at a Dec. 18 town hall meeting that project construction is now to begin this coming spring.

“The project is moving ahead,” Spectar said.  

At a Jan. 16 faculty senate meeting, Spectar gave a brief update on the project and the funds received to begin construction.

“Last term, we received a $500,000 grant from (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation),” Spectar said.  “We’ve received significant donations from public and private funds as well.”

Pennsylvania state Sen. Wayne Langerholc said the sidewalk will affect not just college students, but the community as well.

 “We hope this will tie into other trails and places in Richland Township, and even downtown Johnstown. This is just one step in connecting everything.”

Langerholc said the idea for the project began with a conversation between Spectar and Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky about three years ago.

Chernisky did not respond to requests for comment.

Langerholc said project construction can begin as late as June.

Langerholc, who says he was invited to the groundbreaking ceremony by Pitt-Johnstown administrators, said the ceremony had a great turnout and that he will be excited to see the finished project.

“The turnout really spoke to the commitment people have to the project. It is a great way to connect the community,” Langerholc said.  “There’s also the fitness aspect of it all. People will take advantage of the connected pathways.”

“It will also connect the local schools. Parents who drop their kids off at school or school events can stay in the area and walk the trails themselves or walk their pets. It’s a good way to get people moving,” 

Phase two of the project is to extend to the Richland Industrial Park Complex, The Galleria and back to Pitt-Johnstown.

Langerholc said the project would not be possible without support from partnerships with Pitt-Johnstown and local nonprofits.

“The project wouldn’t be possible without everybody working together,” he said.  “Without these partnerships, the project wouldn’t be in this position.”