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Pugh Street Construction Part of 'Difficult' Process

by on July 02, 2014 6:15 AM

An unexpected case of Dutch elm disease has temporarily turned a section of Pugh Street into a work zone and that's contributing to what some people describe as construction gridlock downtown.

Construction along Pugh Street, which is currently a one-way street between College and Beaver Avenues, is the latest in what State College Borough Engineer Amy Kerner calls “a very difficult process.”

“We have to try to balance the needs of the town, motorists, pedestrians and businesses with the need to get this work done,” Kerner says.

Construction crews have also been working on nearby College Avenue, as well as Park Avenue, for much of the past several weeks. Getting around the roadblocks often takes some extra time.

Pugh Street had already been on the borough’s radar for routine improvements for the past several years. When a case of Dutch elm disease struck the street’s trees, it left “a very stark open hole” behind as the elms died.

Rather than view this as a misfortune, “we thought this gave us an opportunity,” Kerner says. The borough was already aware of a need for resurfacing and complaints of uneven sidewalks, so the death of the elms allowed them to address the project sooner than it may have been otherwise.

Despite the Pugh Street project’s sudden prioritization, the Borough waited until the finalized Downtown Master Plan was adopted last year. The plan outlines a unified vision for the future of the downtown, and Kerner says it has provided guidance in approaching a revamped Pugh streetscape. 

When finished, Pugh Street will feature new trees, handsome brick sidewalks, street furniture and new lighting. The project has been underway for about two weeks and crews are currently tearing out and replacing sections of sidewalk.

Kerner says the street will be “buttoned back up so it's not an impact on Arts Fest,” and expects the project to be finished in mid to late September.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for 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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