HARRISBURG — City engineers showed off their plans to make State Street a safer street Wednesday night.
The stretch of road in Allison Hill between 13th Street and 20th Street, considered by the National Association of City Transportation to be one of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians and drivers, will soon be getting a makeover. Among the changes include textured crosswalks, more crosswalks, crossing timers, better timed traffic signals, and ‘Share the road’ arrows, called Sharrows, for bicycle travel.
The city also plans to narrow the width of lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet, with a 10 foot wide turning lane. There will be significantly more signage promoting slower speed and crosswalk usage. Some crosswalks will also have what engineers call Rectangular Rapidly Flashing Beacons, which act as a visual cue for drivers to slow done and stop at non-signalized intersections.
“We can say with 100 percent certainty that once construction is finished, State Street will be a safer road,” said City of Harrisburg Communications Director Matt Maisel.
The city and its engineering partners at Dawood Engineering, Inc. took into account feedback from over 100 public comments made by Harrisburg residents both in-person at two public meetings and digitally on the website harrisburgpa.gov/state-street. Its focus was to devise a construction plan which prioritized pedestrian safety and residential parking.
Dawood’s draft plan, unveiled at Wednesday night’s final public meeting, also features lined-off, 21-foot-long parking spaces. The physically drawn parking spaces will actually tighten parking along State Street, thus creating more spaces for residents on certain blocks. In addition, the ends of blocks will be marked off as “No parking” zones within 30-feet from a corner in accordance with Pennsylvania law. Trees and bushes will be trimmed, leading to more visibility for vehicles looking to turn onto State Street at non-signalized intersections.
Dawood will take input made at Wednesday’s meeting, make some final tweaks to the plan, and present to PennDOT for its approval. PennDOT, along with owning State Street, is also paying for about half of the slightly more than $1 million project through a multimodal grant. PennDOT has told the City of Harrisburg and Dawood that State Street needs to remain five lanes wide as construction along the Interstate 83 Capital Beltway continues. State Street is considered a major detour route from the highway, and the commonwealth is asking the city to leave it open to allow for more free-flowing traffic should an interstate detour be necessary.
PennDOT has also agreed to pay for State Street to be freshly paved.
Once PennDOT approves the plan, Harrisburg City Council will need to approve the changes before construction begins.