Otten bill offsetting Turnpike expansion with more green space passes House

HARRISBURG, March 18 – The state House of Representatives last week passed Rep. Danielle Friel Otten’s bill to allow Marsh Creek State Park to release a parcel of land adjacent to the Turnpike in exchange for land that would expand the park’s trail network and protect local wetlands and wildlife habitat.

The land along the turnpike, consisting primarily of rock and road berm, was originally purchased with public Project 70 funds, so it cannot be sold or transferred unless it’s replaced with land of an equal or greater value. H.B. 387 would release that strip of land from Project 70 restrictions but transfer Project 70 protections to the new larger wooded, wetland parcel to be acquired by the park.

“Under this plan, we’re showing that development doesn’t have to cost the county’s beautiful and important natural spaces,” said Otten, D-Chester. “This is a win for conservation, Chester County residents, and all Pennsylvanians.”

The new parcel is part of a larger, 57-acre land preservation project coordinated among the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Lands Trust, and the Turnpike Commission. The parcel of land released under the bill would allow the Turnpike Commission to widen the road.

The bill now awaits consideration in the state Senate.