PA 23
Lancaster-Norristown Expressway


One of the traits of the Amish is their sturdy workmanship and strong work ethic which can be seen in the farm fields of Lancaster County. How appropriate that one of the numerous cancelled expressways which combines those qualities exists but as a field in Amish Country.

The PA 23 corridor began to become a concern of the Department of Highways as far back as the 1960s when plans were first drawn up for a connection between US 30 and PA 772.  In early 1970s, the newly created Department of Transportation began working to improve connections around Lancaster. With the PA 283, US 30, and US 222 expressways either under way or the first shovels of dirt to be tossed soon, attention turned to improving the northeastern access. Construction began in 1975 on preliminary grading for the new expressway between US 30 and PA 772. It would have formed a seamless free limited-access route from Lancaster to Norristown, where it would have connected to another cancelled expressway: the Schuylkill Parkway.

The expressway as indicated on the 1976 Department of Transportation map
The expressway as indicated on the 1976 Department of
Transportation map.  (PennDOT)
 
The expressway as indicated on the 1976 Department of Transportation map
Close-up view of the proposed expressway at US 30 showing
a cloverleaf interchange at that route.  (Arrow Publishing)

Construction would end almost as soon as it had begun. With PennDOT hitting the financial skids in the late 1970s and canceling all expressway projects not part of the Interstate System, the fiscal axe also fell on this project in 1977.  The graded alignment was planted over and leased to adjacent farms to be used as a pasture; hence the nickname the "Goat Path Expressway."  Unlike others killed at this time, there are remnants of what was to be built.

On Walnut Street at the US 30 interchange looking towards where the expressway
would have had its western terminus.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Facing westward towards Walnut Street and the City of Lancaster.  (Jeff Kitsko)
At the PA 772 overpass west of Monterey facing west.  This interchange was
graded completely, with the off-ramp on the right and on-ramp on the left.
(Jeff Kitsko)
Facing east towards where construction ended.  The area underneath the PA 772
overpass is now used as a PennDOT maintenance yard.  Off in the distance you
can see some cows grazing on the right-of-way.  (Jeff Kitsko)

During the 1980s, Lancaster County experienced significant population growth and with that a growth in traffic volumes.  PA 23's level of service (LOS) ranks poor and is expected to continue to worsen through 2030.  In 1997, talk again turned to finishing the expressway to alleviate the problems on the current route.  That year the Lancaster County Planning Commission (LCPC) and PennDOT began a Phase I analysis to determine the need for improvements and developed six.

Aerial picture of the Goat Path Expressway
The alignment of the "Goat Path Expressway" slicing through the center of the picture.
 
Map of the Goat Path Expressway alignment
Microsoft's MapPoint still holding onto hope that someday the alignment will be host to
vehicles rather than farm animals.

Three alternatives have been studied in the Draft Environmental Impact Study:  Two-Lane Bareville Connector Alternative, Two-Lane Southern Alternative, and the No-Build Alternative.

Two-Lane Bareville Connector Alternative would consist of one lane in each direction, speed limits between 45 and 55 MPH, and a pedestrian/bicycle path within the existing "Goat Path" right-of-way with a parking facility at PA 772.  The highway would be limited access from US 30 to Bareville with interchanges at US 30, Greenfield Road, Horseshoe Road, PA 772 and existing PA 23.  From Bareville to US 322 and existing PA 23 would be widened and current speed limits maintained.  A two-lane Industrial Connector from the Bareville Connector to Diller Avenue is included in this alternative.  The cost would be 25% less than the Four-Lane Bareville Connector Alternative and would have fewer environmental impacts.

Two-Lane Southern Alternative would consist of one lane in each direction, speed limits between 45 and 55 MPH, and a pedestrian/bicycle path within the existing "Goat Path" right-of-way with a parking facility at PA 772.  The highway would be limited access from US 30 to US 322 and having interchanges at US 30, Greenfield Road, Horseshoe Road, PA 772, Diller Avenue, New Holland Road, Ranck Road, Rancks Church Road, and US 322.  Numerous alignments  were evaluated between Kinzer Avenue and Ranck Road to address residential and agricultural impacts:

The cost would be 47% less than the Four-Lane Bareville Connector Alternative and would have fewer environmental impacts.

No Build Alternative would retain the existing PA 23 alignment and include projects such as the PA 23 traffic signal coordination, and Glenola Drive and Groffdale Road intersection improvements.  Maintenance would occur but no major improvements.  This alternative was carried forward as a benchmark to compare other alternatives.

Links:
PA 23
PA 23 EIS Project - PENNDOT
Abandoned PA 23 - Andy Field/Alex Nitzman
The Goat Path - Derrick Brashear


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Page updated January 23, 2007.
Content and graphics, unless otherwise noted, copyright Jeffrey J. Kitsko. All rights reserved.
Information courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.