Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Second Chance: Public meeting slated as Harrisburg moves forward with 2nd Street conversion plan.

N. 2nd Street in Midtown Harrisburg

Harrisburg’s plan to return much of N. 2nd Street to two-way traffic is picking up speed, as the city has scheduled a public meeting next week on the proposed project.

The Nov. 7 meeting will give residents background on the project, present the results of a traffic study and ask for public input.

“The traffic study is done and has shown that [the project] is feasible,” said city Engineer Wayne Martin. “We now want to see what’s important to the corridor and to the neighborhood.”

The meeting will take place at St@rtup Harrisburg, starting at 6 p.m.

The study by Kittelson & Associates, a transportation and engineering firm, demonstrated that 2nd Street could feasibly be returned to two lanes—one northbound and one southbound—between Forster and Division streets, affirmed Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

“The traffic study has come back showing us that we can do it,” he said. “Now, we have the data to move forward.”

The study, Martin said, showed that motorists would have a “slight reduction” in convenience from the change, but that there would be significant improvements in walkability and in neighborhood safety.

Historically, 2nd Street was designed as a wide boulevard, with two, one-way streets. To accommodate commuter traffic, Harrisburg, in 1956, converted the local street into a three-lane roadway heading north. At the same time, it converted Front Street into a three-lane roadway heading south.

The changes, some have argued, turned Harrisburg from a place to live in to a place to quickly drive through, as the wide, busy streets created unsafe conditions, degraded property values and detrimentally affected quality of life.

Over the past few years, Harrisburg has been awarded grants both from the nonprofit Impact Harrisburg and from PennDOT to study the issue and begin the project. If the current timetable holds, design work would be completed next year, with actual construction taking place in 2020-21, Martin said.

The project would include many elements, including numerous new traffic signals, signage, striping and road work, which also would include changes and improvements to certain intersections along Forster and N. 7th streets, roads that would absorb some of the displaced traffic.

Papenfuse said that, at the public meeting, the city will seek input for features and amenities—such as bike lanes or a median—that could be incorporated into the final road design.

“This is going to be a major quality-of-life upgrade for the city,” Papenfuse said.

Papenfuse also offered updates on the many other infrastructure projects planned and in progress around the city:

  • After many delays, largely due to inclement weather, the 3rd Street corridor project is getting back on track, he said. Expect work to continue through next year.
  • Next year, the city will begin a two-year, $2 million project to repave many of the roads in South Harrisburg. Next month, City Council is expected to pass an ordinance that would authorize a revenue note for the project.
  • The city expects to announce its “rapid response” improvements to State Street, as per its Vision Zero initiative. These changes may include lane reductions and a sheltered bike lane, with work expected next year, Papenfuse said.
  • Harrisburg will begin work repaving the lower river walk following the Harrisburg Marathon, which takes place Nov. 11. However, most of the extensive repaving project will take place in 2019, which will limit access to the popular walking, biking and running path next summer.

The public meeting on returning 2nd Street, between Forster and Division streets, to two-way traffic will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., at St@rtup Harrisburg, 922 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg.

Continue Reading