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City finance recommends design firm on alley transformation

City Council’s finance committee on Tuesday gave a positive recommendation for council to authorize hiring Dewberry Engineering Inc. to redesign Willow Street in the city East End.

Dewberry, if approved by council Thursday, would be paid $160,000 to do engineering design work making the one-way alley that lies between East Third and East Fourth streets and runs for a quarter-mile between Basin and Market streets, into a pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists.

It would be reconstructed and include a bike path designation, landscaping such as rain gardens and permeable surfaces to take stormwater away and lighting improvements.

The design costs for Dewberry’s work are covered by the city using $184,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding, said Jon Sander, city engineer.

Councilwoman Liz Miele, committee chairwoman, said the long-term plan includes landscaping, lighting, a permeable street surface and what amounts to a “green alleyway for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.”

Lycoming College, which benefits from the pathway corridor, nudged the city to put out requests for proposals for design firms, Sander said.

A public meeting is part of the protocol with the design team and will be scheduled so that people with interest can ask more questions about the design and construction elements.

Overall construction is expected to exceed $1 million and is covered by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration, a contribution from the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania and $11,000 in city funds, Sander said.

Base on the time for design and review by PennDOT, the construction is likely to occur in 2022, Sander said.

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