Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Driving Change: Harrisburg streets get new look, design as “Vision Zero” projects continue

Travel lanes were reduced and bike/bus lanes were added on N. 6th Street.

The name of the program may be “Vision Zero,” but Harrisburg officials have more than a vision to improve city streets–they have a plan.

On Friday’s edition of Community Conversations with Mayor Eric Papenfuse, the engineers behind the projects highlighted the work that has recently been done and the construction to come.

The city released its “Vision Zero” action plan over a year ago and pledged to improve road safety. Their goal is to bring the number of annual pedestrian fatalities to zero by 2030.

“It is a commitment to eliminate pedestrian injuries that result from motor crashes,” city Engineer Wayne Martin said.

Most recently, work was completed on N. 6th Street, where a “road diet” was implemented between Boas and Reily streets. This means travel lanes were removed, bike lanes and bus drop-off zones were added, and more parking was made available, all to make the corridor narrower and more pedestrian-friendly.

Moving right up, a N. 7th Street project is in the final stages of design as well, according to Martin. The main element of this plan is a roundabout that will be constructed near the new federal courthouse. This eliminates left-hand turning, which has caused issues in that section of the street, Martin said.

In addition, a center median featuring trees will split the lanes. Street trees provide shade, reduce the urban heat island effect, and better manage stormwater, Martin said.

These features also are expected to have a traffic calming effect, Martin explained.

Once permits are in place, Martin expects construction to begin in the spring of 2021. The N. 7th Street project is fully funded by grant money, Martin said.

The public can expect to see a project finished in MulDer Square even sooner.

Signs of work on the city’s Derry Street project are already being seen as new sidewalk has been laid, ADA-accessible ramps were installed and stormwater management features have been added. But this is just one phase of the project.

“The work that’s happening right now in MulDer Square is a precursor of other things to come,” Project Manager Ambrose Buck said.

Starting as early as September or October, construction will begin on the cul-de-sac at the end of Derry Street, including the stairs that lead down to Cameron Street. A green space will be built, in addition to some paths to make the area more walkable for residents.

“This is a way to revitalize this area and improve quality of life in these neighborhoods,” Martin said.

Construction of a mini-roundabout at the intersection of Mulberry and Derry streets, as well as the transformation of Nectarine Street’s asphalt to green infrastructure, are also part of the project.

Similar work was done not long ago on the intersection at 4th and Maclay streets. New asphalt was added, sidewalks were replaced, crosswalks were added and ADA-compliant ramps built.

On many people’s minds has been the proposal to transform 2nd Street from a one-way to a two-way traffic, Papenfuse said.

Martin gave an update, saying design should be completed this year and construction will likely begin in the spring.

“This is a major, major transformational project,” Martin said.

Besides the changing flow of traffic, the city will add pedestrian refuge islands for people crossing the street, mini roundabouts and ADA-compliant ramps.

Martin explained that the street will become two-way at the beginning of construction to test its effectiveness.

Other coming projects include State Street improvements to tighten travel lanes and boost pedestrian safety, as well as proposed changes to Forster Street that would reduce the road width and add pedestrian-friendly features. These are still in the planning stages.

“We have to make sure we are all willing to compromise–the community, PennDOT and the city–on a plan that everyone can see as a step forward,” Papenfuse said.

For more information on the city’s “Vision Zero” plan, visit To watch past Community Conversations, visit the City of Harrisburg’s YouTube channel.

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