Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Full Speed Ahead: Harrisburg receives additional $500,000 to start river walk repairs.

The City of Harrisburg will soon start repairing its pockmarked riverfront walkway, working with a budget that’s 50 percent larger than initially anticipated.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced on Tuesday night that the city has received an additional $500,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to repair concrete on the entire length of the city’s historic river walk — 11,000 feet stretching from the Shipoke neighborhood to Maclay Street in Uptown.

The city learned a year ago that it had received $1 million from the federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant, which is designed to assist and promote non-motorized transportation.

City officials knew then that $1 million would not cover the whole project, Papenfuse said. They successfully lobbied PennDOT, which administers the federal TAP grant, for more money.

“It’s a massive project,” Papenfuse said. “With the price of concrete and total scope of the project, we needed more.”

Papenfuse said that work could begin as early as this year. He declined to say how long it would take to complete the repairs, but did say that the city might have to work quickly to comply with terms of the grant.

Harrisburg expects to receive its funds almost immediately after council grants approval for the grant agreement. That will likely happen at council’s legislative session next week.

“I think PennDOT is ready to go,” Papenfuse said. “This isn’t that complicated and won’t require a separate design phase… so we’ll move into the contract and bidding phase next.”

The 100-year old Riverwalk is pummeled by floods, snow and ice every year, which leads to erosion and cracks in the concrete. The walkway is currently marred by potholes and uneven surfaces, making it impassable for anyone riding bikes, pushing strollers, or travelling in wheelchairs.

The funds from this grant will not permit the city to repair the stairs leading from Riverfront Park to the riverside promenade, nor the steps that descend from the lower walkway into the river. Papenfuse said that those fixes, as well as other enhancements like landscaping, could be made by the city with in-house labor after the walkway repairs are complete.

“This is a major investment and it will be up to the city to maintain it,” Papenfuse said.

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