Pedestrian safety features along a main artery in Fountain Hill borough will be upgraded starting next year thanks to a $1 million grant that’s been awarded by Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority under the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund.
Officials said Tuesday that the grant will primarily be used to replace deteriorated or missing curbs and sidewalks along a one-mile section of Broadway between the Salisbury Township line to the west and the Bethlehem city line to the east.
In some places, curb reveals which will are also scheduled to be replaced have sunk so low that they’re now even with or below the grade of the roadbed, which means there is little to stop a speeding car from swerving onto a sidewalk.
Fountain Hill Borough Manager Anthony Branco said he’s actually witnessed a scary situation in which vehicles use sunken curbs and sidewalks as a makeshift passing lane.
The new raised sidewalks will also prevent the use of the sidewalks for parking along Broadway, which is one of only two main roads in the borough.
“It’ll make walking better for the pedestrians,” Branco said of the improvements.
He added that aesthetically, it will also help to improve the appearance of a worn-down thoroughfare that has become a very busy gateway to South Bethlehem from the west.
“It’ll be a feather in the hat for Fountain Hill,” Branco said. “It’ll be good for everybody.”
Some of the other improvements which will be made thanks to the grant are:
- Installation of ADA-compliant upgrades to driveway aprons
- Replacement of a deteriorating culvert on Broadway near the intersection of Dodson Street
- Miscellaneous storm sewer repairs and restoration
“I’m thrilled about this funding,” said State Rep. Jeanne McNeill (D-133), whose district includes Fountain Hill, in a news release about it Tuesday. “These dollars will ensure that residents using that busy stretch of road will be safer on new sidewalks and crosswalks.”
Branco said that along with officials from the City of Bethlehem and Salisbury Township, both McNeill and State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18) played an important role in helping the borough secure the grant on its second try.
“I was also in touch with the governor’s office,” he noted.
Since PennDOT is planning to repave the same stretch of Broadway between 2020 and 2021, Branco said borough officials hope to coordinate the pedestrian safety improvements with that $1.2 million project. A meeting to begin that process is scheduled for December.
Doing so will likely reduce the total cost of the pedestrian safety improvements, which is actually $1.64 million, Branco explained.
He said coordinating the two projects will also help to lessen the impact of the work on traffic in the area, although he cautioned that regardless of how much planning takes place, “it’s going to be a mess” in the area due to the simultaneous paving and sidewalk work.
According to Branco, work on the sidewalks will begin at the Bethlehem border, since that end of the corridor is in worse shape.
The intersection of Broadway and Delaware Avenue will also see improvements made to it, although the extent of those upgrades will depend on how much money can potentially be saved by coordinating the sidewalk and paving projects, possibly under a single contractor.
Branco said the borough previously received a $60,000 grant for pedestrian improvements to that intersection, which it had to decline after the only bid for the work it received was for nearly $200,000.
In the four-and-a-half years he’s been borough manager, Branco said the funding for Broadway’s sidewalks represents the largest single grant Fountain Hill has received.
“I can’t thank our state representatives and the governor’s office enough,” he said.