On Tuesday, along one of the busiest streets in Allison Hill, Harrisburg officials spoke with the community about plans to make the street safer—a project with an end finally in sight.
The State Street Rapid Response project was launched in 2018 with the intent to decrease pedestrian fatalities and accidents on State Street in Harrisburg.
“There have been more pedestrian and bicycle accidents on this road than anywhere else on the east coast,” said Ambrose Buck, project manager.
The dangerous nature of the street caused city Engineer Wayne Martin and his team to prioritize State Street, hence the project name “Rapid Response.” But the project hasn’t been very rapid.
Buck explained how Harrisburg maintains State Street, but the commonwealth owns it and essentially must sign off on any proposed construction.
The city had to rework its plan for the street a few times before PennDOT approved it.
“This has been a long time of development,” Buck said. “We are excited to get it done.”
The main goal of the plan is to slow vehicle traffic. Based on a survey the city conducted, residents were most concerned with high vehicle speeds.
State Street will undergo a “road diet,” reducing the number of vehicle lanes from five to three. Buck said that the project will add protected bike lanes and improve crosswalks, including a median refuge island in the middle of the street.
That is expected to be completed in the spring or summer of 2021, Buck said.
“I drive and ride my bike on this street a lot, and I’m glad to see all these improvements finally happening” said Harrisburg resident Lou Searles.
Additional plans for State Street include addressing another top issue found in the city’s survey—street lighting. Buck said they will add new street lights and update existing ones by December.
The project cost is $653,000, with PennDOT contributing $500,000 and $153,000 coming from the city’s fund balance.
The State Street Rapid Response project is part of the city’s “Vision Zero” initiative to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities in Harrisburg to zero.
At a City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Martin said the pop-up event was intended to engage members of the community who may not be able to access the project plans online. He said about a dozen people attended.
Martin added that the city will likely hold another similar event before construction begins.
For more information on the State Street Rapid Response project, visit https://www.visionzerohbg.org/projects/state-street/.
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