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Borough seeks grant for Emaus upgrades; $700,000 in improvements would link to Amtrak station

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 11/20/19

Middletown Borough Council has applied for a state grant to fund $704,200 in proposed improvements to West Emaus Street.

The improvements would upgrade lighting, curbs and sidewalks, and trees as …

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Borough seeks grant for Emaus upgrades; $700,000 in improvements would link to Amtrak station

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Middletown Borough Council has applied for a state grant to fund $704,200 in proposed improvements to West Emaus Street.

The improvements would upgrade lighting, curbs and sidewalks, and trees as part of extending West Emaus to West Main Street.

The project would also seek to make West Emaus safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, according to a Nov. 5 letter from Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter to Lower Swatara Township seeking township support for the grant application.

Extending West Emaus to West Main is included in the plan to build the new Amtrak train station along West Main Street. The new station is scheduled to open in 2021 or 2022, depending on when Amtrak finishes moving its railroad tracks, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The grant application is for funding through PennDOT’s multi-modal program, Charles Hess, senior project manager with Navarro & Wright Consulting Engineers Inc., told council Oct. 15.

The borough is seeking $492,940 in grant funds from PennDOT. The borough must provide a 30 percent match of its own funds, equal to $211,260, bringing the total project cost to $704,200, according to Klinepeter’s letter. Council following Hess’s presentation on Oct. 15 voted 6-0 to approve applying for the grant and to commit the matching funds.

The grant application was due Nov. 8, Hess said. PennDOT is expected to announce grant awards in July.

The project would extend features of the downtown streetscape improvements from Union and Emaus streets west along Emaus to West Main Street.

New handicapped-accessible ramps would be built at crosswalks to tie in with the new curbs and sidewalks.

One change is the crosswalks would not have pavers in the street. The pavers have become a borough maintenance headache, especially at the Union and Emaus intersection.

Street lighting would follow the decorative pattern set in the downtown streetscape.

The plan also calls for closing off to vehicular traffic the part of Scott Avenue at West Emaus. The area would remain open to pedestrians.

Borough Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach has expressed concern over the safety of vehicles using Scott Avenue to turn onto West Emaus. Vehicles parked on Emaus make it difficult for motorists trying to make the turn to see other traffic and pedestrians.

Wilsbach Oct. 15 said closing off Scott Avenue would be done in a way to not adversely impact businesses that use the street.

The West Emaus improvements would also include fixing the steps in front of the Municipal Building at 60 W. Emaus St., Hess said.

The borough sees improving West Emaus and extending the street to West Main as part of the train station project as key to attracting more people into the downtown surrounding Emaus and Union streets, especially students attending Penn State Harrisburg.