ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Thursday, at its final meeting of 2017, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission's senior transportation planner announced five area Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside funding awards (TASA) totaling $1.32 million from a list of 15 applicants seeking just over $10 million in total project development requests.
Senior transportation planner Mike Donchez said the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study (LVTS) approved the TASA project awards, which help build bicycle and pedestrian facilities, improve access to public transportation, create safe routes to school, preserve historic transportation structures, provide environmental mitigation and create trails projects that serve a transportation purpose.
Per Donchez, eligible project sponsors include local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public land agencies, school districts and tribal governments. Additional TASA projects include conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails, construction of overlooks and viewing areas, historic preservation and rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities, archaeological activities, and bicycle and pedestrian education.
Specifically, the LVTS $1.3 million in local TASA awards were as follows:
- $500,000 to the city of Bethlehem for its Corridor Connections initiative. The project in South Bethlehem calls for improving crosswalks at three intersections, adding handicap ramps on four streets and increasing lighting in areas frequented by pedestrians and bicyclists.
- $160,000 for Allentown's Community Bike Works' bike education program. This project helps fund the organization’s bicycle education program targeted at low-income youths, including its earn-a-bike program.
- $136,100 for the bike education program of the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation. The Bethlehem-based organization plans to use the money for bicycle education and promotions for 6,000 youths from kindergarten through eighth grade. The money will help fund 84 events that will include at least 30 school assemblies focusing on bicycle and helmet safety.
- $200,000 to the Hellertown Main Street Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which is part of a $1.1 million plan that will include crosswalks, LED lighting and access ramps for the handicapped at some of the borough's busiest intersections downtown.
- $325,900 to Lehigh County's Geiger Covered Bridge project, part of a $1.2 million effort to restore the structural integrity and look of the 157-year-old covered bridge, which is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Deterioration has rendered the bridge unable to handle the weight of some vehicles.
In addition, Donchez said, the remaining ten projects not funded by the local TASA allocations will be forwarded to the local PennDOT office for consideration from the state's $55 million reserve. The remaining applicants are expected to be notified in January or February next year whether they are slated to receive any monies from Pennsylvania's reserve.
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