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Allentown hits jackpot with streetscape grant

ALLENTOWN – Municipal officials will receive $854,000 from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) that will be used for the second phase of Allentown’s historic streetscape improvement project.

On July 11, the NJTPA Board of Trustees approved funding for 27 transportation alternative projects totaling $19.46 million, including pedestrian and bicycle facilities, trails, improved access to transit and environmental and historic preservation, according to a press release.

The projects, which have already been approved by New Jersey Commissioner of Transportation Richard Hammer, are in 26 municipalities in 10 counties in the NJTPA region, according to the press release.

Mayor Greg Westfall said the improvements will include the replacement of severely deteriorated curbing and sidewalks and will bring the area into full compliance with standards established by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

He said the proposed improvements will extend west on Church Street about 1,900 feet to the borough limits and north on Main Street about 800 feet to Broad Street.

Existing sidewalks will be replaced with a combination of brick pavers and concrete, and concrete curb will be installed to match the recently completed improvements of the first phase of the historic streetscape improvement project that were completed in 2016, according to the mayor.

In addition, street trees that are more suitable for streetscapes will be planted in place of any trees that have to be removed in order to properly reconstruct the sidewalk and curb.

“This grant will continue our efforts to enhance pedestrian safety and our national and state designated historic district, as well as make the borough an attractive place to live and do business. The Borough Council and I would like to express our gratitude to all parties who made this grant possible,” Westfall said.

Allentown was previously selected to receive $235,000 from the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Fiscal Year 2017 municipal aid program for the second phase of its historic streetscape improvement project.

Commenting on the NJTPA’s selection of qualified projects, Somerset County Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, chairman of the NJTPA Board of Trustees, said, “These are important projects that will improve safety and enhance the quality of life in communities across our region.”

The Transportation Alternatives Program is funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The program is administered by the DOT in partnership with the NJTPA and New Jersey’s other two Metropolitan Planning Organizations, according to the press release.

Projects must meet at least one of the following criteria to be considered for funding:

• Community improvement activities, specifically streetscaping and corridor landscaping

• Design and construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized forms of transportation

• Conversion and use of abandoned railroad corridors for trails for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized transportation users

• Construction of scenic turnouts, overlooks and viewing areas

• Historic preservation and rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities both land and water such as building structures and canals

• Environmental mitigation to address storm water management, control and water pollution prevention or abatement related to highway construction or due to highway runoff

• Reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality or to restore and maintain connectivity among terrestrial or aquatic habitats.

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