Bike, pedestrian path envisioned but not priority

The proposed transformation of a city street in the East Third Street Old City Gateway into a pedestrian-and-bicycle-friendly pathway with added stormwater drainage touches is on the city’s “to do list,” but not a top priority, city officials said.

Willow Way, the proposed creation of a greenway on Willow Street, between Market and Basin streets, is part of the design plans only at this point.

“It’s on the back burner,” said Jon Sander, city engineer.

Sander offered no further comment at this time.

Mayor Derek Slaughter said when he has information he will provide it.

The street runs parallel between East Third and East Fourth streets and is envisioned as part of the neighborhood revitalization, said Teresa Sparacino, vice president of Delta Development Group Inc., a Mechanicsburg-based economic development consulting firm working on behalf of the city.

Sparacino was asked to touch on the issue by the city finance committee.

It is a proposed connector route to be used by Lycoming College students, staff and visitors and neighbors to access the downtown Central Business District. It has been funded through the state Department of Transportation Alternative Set-Aside Program.

“The city received $1 million for the project,” Sparacino said of the greenway.

Nearby, and separate from the Willow Way vision, PennDOT, through its general contractor, Glenn O. Hawbaker, is in the process of reconstructing East Third Street and adding pavement, sidewalks, lights and trees. There are closures at Basin and just east of Market Street, allowing traffic to be detoured to Church Street and to access Via Bella.

As for Willow Way, Councilwoman Liz Miele, an avid bicyclist, said council should take an over-arching look at the pathway in terms of what additional grants or funding may be needed to make it happen, along with other aspects of the gateway revitalization..

If it does get redone, Willow Way will be designed to reduce pollutants from entering the drainage system and West Branch of the Susquehanna River, Sparacino said.

For example, the construction work will include removing (impervious) materials or those that allow rain water to collect and to rush into the drainage with materials that are permeable, such as pavers, she said.

The pathway design includes a new drain beneath that connects to the existing stormwater system.

“Trees and other vegetation will be added to further improve stormwater management,” Sparacino said.

For those requiring accessibility to the pathway, the design indicates curb ramps installed at the intersections of Mulberry and East streets.

It also won’t be a dark passage for bicyclists or walkers.

Decorative bollard lights will be added to improve safety on the enhanced pathway, Sparacino said.

Because the city is trying to reduce nutrients from getting into the stormwater system to improve conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, interpretive panels/kiosks will be added to educate the public on the importance of the permeable pavers and their benefit for water quality and stormwater management.

For those requiring a brief respite on their walk, benches will be added and to keep it nice looking and free of litter, trash receptacles will be put along the pathway, Sparacino said.

Lycoming College officials have said the pathway will be a link to further enhance connectivity and give the city a chance to improve its commercial businesses as students and staff often go downtown to shop, eat, and drink.

Willow Way is envisioned to remain open to thru-traffic in order to allow emergency services vehicles, police and fire trucks and for property owners and others who use it to access their houses and apartments, according to the design plan.


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