The City of Allentown has been awarded a nearly $300,000 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Grant for pedestrian safety improvements adjacent to the Allentown School District’s Building 21. The funds will also be used for the “Connecting our Community” MLK Parkway Trail, which connects the downtown to the city’s western park resources.
The project funding is one of 51 grant awards across the state that were announced recently by Governor Tom Wolf and PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards.
“These projects are important initiatives that enhance communities across Pennsylvania to create stronger economies and better infrastructure,” Governor Wolf said. “Making these improvements will enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities, improve access to public transportation, create safe routes to school, preserve historic transportation structures, provide environmental mitigation, create trails that serve a transportation purpose, and promote safety and mobility.”
“I am pleased that the state agrees with our assessment that safety improvements are needed for pedestrians and motorists traveling along this high crash and gateway corridor to the downtown,” said interim Public Works Director Craig Messinger.
“The wave of downtown development is bringing a significant influx of vehicular and pedestrian traffic to the area,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “That development is creeping southward towards MLK, Jr Drive. Merging the City’s significant signal improvement project in the downtown and the state project along Lehigh Street, has highlighted the need for improvements to this intersection. The lack of adaptive signal technology here limits the effectiveness of the downtown traffic flow and congestion calming efforts in the area. This project will remedy that situation.”
The project plan is to install highly visible thermoplastic, continental crosswalks; ADA compliant curb ramps, and appropriate pedestrian signs used in advance of crosswalks signage on the walking routes. A fourth crossing (south of the intersection) will be added to promote connectivity to the MLK trail.
The crosswalks will have hand/man countdown pedestrian signal heads with push buttons. School speed limit flashers will be installed with communications systems. The signal improvements include the complete modernization of the intersection with the installation of new mast arms and controller assembly and a video detection system with radio communication and emergency preemption system. The signal improvement will tie into the existing traffic management system which, using adaptive technologies, allows for real-time data collection and adjustment of signal timings from a remote location to respond to changing traffic demands.
The MLK Parkway Trail, when complete, will connect western resources to the downtown via this major intersection. The MLK Parkway Trail, part of the “Connecting our Community” plan, is key to developing pedestrian safety enhancements for this project. The Trail will connect bicyclists and pedestrians to the downtown Strategic Planning Areas which include the Downtown/Cultural Arts and Entertainment District and the North Seventh Street Corridor.
Total project cost is estimated at less than $340,000. Traffic Planning & Control capital funds and/or Liquid Fuels funds will be used to pay the balance of the costs.
Contract completion with the state is expected to take about 12 months. The City anticipates the three month project work could begin as early as the summer of 2018.
PennDOT evaluated the applications and made selections based on such criteria as safety benefits, reasonableness of cost, readiness for implementation, statewide or regional significance, integration of land use and transportation decision making, collaboration with stakeholders, and leverage of other projects or funding.