PennDOT: Harrisburg bike lane project to begin in May

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Despite a frozen Susquehanna River, signs of activity and thawing are heating up along Riverfront Park.

Jessica Roarabaugh and Rebecca Winters had a spring in their step while walking in the mild temperatures.

“Now that the warm weather is out, walk around, just see the locals and just get my feet back in warm weather,” Roarabaugh said.

Front Street will soon be decorated with green grass, yellow flowers, and orange traffic cones. PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said a $4.2 million dollar repaving project will begin in mid-May.

Carrying wide white blueprints, Penny pointed to a map of the project.

“It goes from Division Street all the way down here to Cameron Street,” he said.

Penny said Blooming Glen Contractors won the bid to perform the work in October. Front Street will get an addition by subtracting.

“We’re looking at changing three lanes from Division down to Forster to two,” Penny said.

North Front Street is two lanes of traffic from Linglestown Road to Division Street. Penny said PennDOT engineers concluded it made more sense to continue with two lanes from Division to Forster.

From Forster to Paxton, there are more left-handed turns to get to downtown Harrisburg, which is why three lanes will remain on that stretch.

The other reason behind the decision was due to driving habits. Penny said the study showed drivers often hit cubs, trees, and poles along Front Street because there is no shoulder or buffer.

The project calls for two 10-feet-wide traffic lanes, a four-foot-wide shoulder on the left side of the road, and a six-foot-wide bicycle lane on the right.

“There will be a rumble strip that will separate traffic with the bikes,” Penny said.

Bicycling enthusiast Dick Norford said the bike lane would ease pedestrian traffic on the Riverfront Park path.

As ABC 27 reported last fall, the city’s first dedicated bike lane was requested by Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

“A lot of this I would say is really driven by what the city wanted to accomplish by making the area more bike friendly,” he said.

Papenfuse previously said he plans to add more bike lanes around the city, including on Second Street, Seventh Street, and possibly Forster and Maclay.

Because most of the curbs, handicap ramps, and crosswalks need to be repaired, that work will begin first.

“They’re going to reestablish 8-inch reveal along the curbing,” Penny said. “So, that’s resetting the granite curbing. And where the concrete is missed, they’re going to replace it with concrete curbing.”

The contract is through June of next year. Penny believes much of the repaving and striping will take place next spring.

Roarabaugh and Winters said their eagerness to be outdoors could be greatly improved with a bike lane.

“A biking lane will be so much safer for residents,” Roarabaugh said. “I’m definitely interested in something like that.”

“It’s going to be so much nicer and prettier,” Winters said. “With the park, it’s just going to look great.”

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