Improvements are coming to the 500 and 600 blocks of Chew Street in the Heart of the City neighborhood thanks to an infusion of state and city dollars and funding committed by Sacred Heart HealthCare System.
Sacred Heart HealthCare System President & CEO John Nespoli made the announcement at a late morning news conference alongside Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, State Senator Pat Browne and State Representative Mike Schlossberg.
The state is providing $300,000 to Sacred Heart through the Multimodal Transportation Fund. The city is contributing $100,000 in capital funds and Sacred Heart has committed $75,000.
The 500 and 600 blocks of Chew Street are a key corridor that connects Sacred Heart Hospital’s campus to Allentown’s Seventh Street Main Street Program.
“Our neighborhoods are the lifeblood of the city,” said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “At the core, the services we provide on a daily basis are for the residents of our neighborhoods. If we are going to continue to grow as a city, then we have to meet the needs of our neighborhoods.”
“I applaud Governor Corbett and the Commonwealth Financing Authority for releasing these funds through the Multimodal Transportation Fund to help with this important project,” Senator Pat Browne said. “The investment that Sacred Heart Hospital, the City of Allentown and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are making to improve this key corridor through the heart of the city is vital to the goal of revitalizing and re-energizing downtown Allentown. Sacred Heart provides a valuable service to this community. These infrastructure and streetscape improvements will increase safety and make the hospital more accessible to those in need of assistance.”
“This streetscape improvement plan will increase property values, enhance safety and increase the livability and commerce in the Heart of the City neighborhood,” said Schlossberg. “It represents yet another major commitment to the area from Mayor Pawlowski, Senator Browne and me. It also serves as a demonstration of the importance of the transportation plan that I voted for last year. It’s also worth noting that gas is $.30 cheaper today than it was when we enacted Act 89. For anyone who questions why we voted for these transportation improvements, here is yet another answer.”
“For over 100 years, Sacred Heart has been a major part of the city and this neighborhood,” Nespoli said. “The Heart of the City Phase II will further connect residents with the hospital and our patients and staff to the businesses along Seventh Street. Ultimately our neighborhood will be safer and cleaner and Sacred Heart is proud to be a partner on this project.”
Streetscape and pedestrian safety issues will be improved in the project area by: 1) installing 34 pedestrian scale streetlights. The streetlights will be identical to pedestrian streetlights that have been installed throughout the campus of Sacred Heart Hospital; 2) Removal of 24 dying/overgrown shade trees and replaced with 40 new trees; 3) Repaving and restriping the 500 and 600 blocks of Chew Street.
Pedestrian safety will be improved by: 1) Constructing 19 ADA approved handicapped ramps for the intersections that do not have modern ramps; 2) Installing high-visibility crosswalks at the 6th and Chew and 7th and Chew Street intersections.
Planning for the Heart of the City Initiative in this area of the city began in 2009 with work beginning in 2011.
The initial multi-phase public/private partnership project budget included $400,000 from the city’s capital budget, $200,000 in federal stimulus funds, a $300,000 contribution from The Stabler Foundation and $10,000 from The Century Fund.
A bus pull-in area was constructed at Sacred Heart School on the east side of 4th Street and on the north side of Chew Street in front of Central Catholic High School along with sidewalk bump-outs. The city installed paved crosswalks and additional crosswalk improvements at the intersection of 4th and Chew and 5th and Chew. The work included installation of 54 attractive pedestrian lights and tree plantings along the 4th and Chew Street corridors.