Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bike lane or median? Harrisburg seeks input on 2-way 2nd Street concepts.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse looks over a rendering of a proposed roundabout at 2nd and Verbeke streets under a plan to convert much of N. 2nd Street to two-way traffic.

Do you prefer a bike lane or a center lane?

That will be the big decision tonight for Harrisburg residents attending the final community meeting for the planned conversion of N. 2nd Street to two-way traffic.

The city will unveil its two final design concepts at the meeting at HACC Midtown 2, which starts at 6 p.m.

The first design features a left-hand-turn lane, along with partial median strips, along the two-mile stretch of N. 2nd from Forster to Division streets. The second includes a dedicated, “parking protected” bike lane, meaning it would be protected from the parked cars.

“That’s the main difference,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse this morning. “Do you want a center lane with medians, or do you want a bike lane? We can’t accommodate both.”

A 40-minute presentation will kick off tonight’s meeting, Papenfuse said. Afterwards, attendees will be able to break off into groups to study the concepts in detail, block by block, and offer input.

The two concepts are not mutually exclusive, Papenfuse said. Some features are interchangeable between the two designs.

Both designs include roundabouts at certain busy intersections, such as at N. 2nd and Verbeke streets and N. 2nd and Reily streets.

Notably, most traffic signals would be removed under both concepts and, like with the current construction along the 3rd Street corridor, intersections would be improved to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Signals would remain at the busy intersections at Forster, Maclay and Division streets.

“We are genuinely interested in feedback as to what the public thinks about each option,” Papenfuse said. “If there is an overwhelming consensus for one of the two options, we’re going to go with that. If it’s divided, then we’re going to choose.”

Papenfuse expects construction to begin next year, wrapping up at the end of 2021. The cost of the $6 million project is being split between the city, the state Department of Transportation and Impact Harrisburg, a nonprofit set up in the wake of the city’s financial crisis.

Residents will evaluate these two design concepts tonight. The left concept shows the turning lane/median and the right concept shows the protected bike lane.

The city converted 2nd Street from a neighborhood street to a three-lane, mini-highway in the 1950s to accommodate commuter traffic. Proposals to return the road to two-way traffic have been floated for decades, but gained steam a few years ago as the city made it a priority and pressed the issue with PennDOT.

Last year, the city held its initial community meeting on the project, which attracted more than 100 residents. That meeting gathered information on what residents, especially those who live on 2nd Street, would like to see, and some of that input has been incorporated into the final designs, Papenfuse said.

Neither design includes angled parking, which was discussed at length during the first public meeting. That concept took up too much road space, while adding no additional parking, said city Engineer Wayne Martin.

Both final concepts will reduce the total amount of parking along 2nd Street, mostly because of the ADA-mandated intersection improvements, Martin said.

Currently, there are 620 street parking spaces on N. 2nd from Forster to Division streets. Concept 1, which includes the turning lanes, would reduce parking to 550 spaces, while concept 2, which includes the bike lane, would reduce street parking to 537 spaces, Martin said.

“It is genuine to say that I see the benefits of both,” Papenfuse said. “We could go with either and be very pleased as a city. They’re both transformative and safer and better for the neighborhood.”

The two-way 2nd Street community meeting begins at 6 p.m. at HACC Midtown 2, 1500 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg.

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