New college gateway, Old City progress finally happening

A lot of talk and not much action.

That’s been the story for years regarding the need to improve the city’s eastern boundary corridor.

But there is every indication that story is about to be reworked – radically – in the next 18 months.

Lycoming College has announced plans to kick off a $12.5 million “gateway” building project to provide a new entrance or “gateway” to the college as well as a new admissions building and welcome. There will be presentation space, a three-story atrium, cafe, alumni suite and other connections to the community that surrounds the college.

In other words, the college, one of the community’s largest employers, will be more physically and practically connected with Williamsport, a long-overdue development.

Bolstering the impact of the plan is $7 million in infrastructure improvements due to take place concurrently as part of the East Third Street/Old City Gateway Revitalization project.

The city government project entails complete street reconstruction, additional sidewalks, and converting a small alleyway, Willow Street, into a bicycle pathway and walking path. Eventually, Franklin Street will be aligned with Basin Street near the college’s new entrance, becoming a two-way boulevard, with a median strip, plants and other aesthetics in the middle between East Fourth and East Third streets.

When all the work is done by the fall of 2019, Lycoming College will have a new entrance and the eastern boundary of Williamsport will have a dramatically different traffic pattern and look, perhaps setting the stage for other long-overdue changes and economic development.

It’s taken much too long, but the physical reality of these upcoming changes is exciting.