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Centre County to Receive Nearly $1.8 Million Dollars in Transportation Grants

by on November 10, 2014 4:28 PM

Centre County will receive nearly $1.8 million dollars in federal funding to improve alternative modes of transportation and increase safety for bicyclist and pedestrians. 

The State College borough will receive $5,300 to install bicycle repair stations along heavily trafficked paths, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Ferguson Township will receive $777,753 for construction of a new sidewalk along West College Avenue, while College Township will receive $946,880 to connect two of its most popular bike paths. Even the Centre Area Transportation Authority is getting in on the action, with $50,000 to install lighting at some of its heavily-used bus stops in Ferguson Township.

“The township was very fortunate to get this grant,” says Ferguson Township Public Works Director David Modricker. 

He says the construction of a new sidewalk will increased pedestrian safety along a section of West College Avenue where very few pedestrian amenities currently exist. The sidewalk will start at the edge of the borough – where College Avenue becomes a two-way street – and will run to Corl Street, where it will connect with an existing network of sidewalks.

He expects the design work and preliminary engineering to run through 2015, with construction wrapping up in late 2016. 

Modricker describes this a “seed project” that will lead to further improvements along that stretch of College Avenue. The PennDOT grant will fund the construction of the sidewalk, while future projects will look to install benches, trees and improved lighting.

“It was a pretty lengthy application process to get this grant, but we were also lucky enough to get another grant for $100,000 for the same project from the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources,” College Township Engineer Kent Baker says.

College Township applied for its grant money last spring, seeking to connect the bike paths that run along Orchard and Puddintown Road. Without this extension, bicyclists have to cross the busy intersection of the two roads and navigate several blind turns. By connecting the two paths, Baker says the project will improve safety for both motorists and bicyclists.

“This project has been talked about in one form or another for over a dozen years,” Baker says. “This is also going to assist with some existing storm water drainage problems by redirecting water into a detention facility before it’s released into Millbrook Marsh.”

Baker says the project will go out to bid by 2016, with construction finishing up by early 2017.

Jacqueline Sheader, public relations manager with CATA, says the area of Ferguson Township near North Atherton Street has “completely changed” since it first installed its bus stops along Aaron Drive and Martin Street.

“Back when that area first started developing there weren’t nearly as much student housing and residential space as there is now,” Sheader says. “Because of how much our community has grown, it’s important for us to increase the lighting at those stops.”

She says this will include 14 total stops, including several at apartment complexes CATA has partnered with. This will increase safety for riders and hopefully encourage more people to take advantage of the services CATA offers.

Sheader says the project has a total cost of $75,000 with $25,000 coming from local funds to augment PennDOT’s grant.

Representatives from the State College borough could not be reached for comment.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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