Beaver Falls preps for makeover
Starting this spring, PennDOT will begin the “7th Avenue Betterment Project,” a road-construction project that will renew the entire main street on Route 18, beginning with the bridge connecting Beaver Falls and New Brighton and continuing until 19th street.
Beyond a complete resurfacing of the roads, there will be some significant areas which the construction project—estimated to cost $7 million—will address. Turning lanes will be installed, as well as new traffic lights with sensors to help traffic flow more efficiently. Reverse-angle, back-in parking will replace the current parking system, bike lanes will be created and sidewalks will be improved. The city will also incorporate “bump outs”, a design that extends the curb further into the road. These will better define parking lanes, put drivers’ minds at ease and shorten the distance for a pedestrian to cross the road.
Since the money belongs to the state, it has been purposely set aside for PennDOT to do road construction on Route 18, with completion set for spring of 2020. “PennDOT has been very gracious and cooperative trying to accommodate all of our needs and working with our city and the administration,” said Rick Crawford, chairman of the Beaver Falls Business District Authority.
PennDOT has held public forums which allow people to give input before the final plan is set in place. “These funds were earmarked for road construction from the state, and we’re just taking advantage of being able to be a part of that,” Crawford said.
One of the main goals of this project is to create a better shopping district in Beaver Falls. With the improvement of the sidewalks, the hope is that there will be increased walkability and a comeback of small-town shops.
“I’m excited about it. As a merchant myself, and as a long-time resident, it’s exciting, and I can’t wait to see the change,” said Crawford. “We know there will be some delays and setbacks for us as merchants while the construction is going on, but they’ve been gracious to accommodate people.”
One way PennDOT has accommodated Beaver Falls is by planning the construction around the Spring Festival in May and the Car Cruise in June, at which 10,000 to 15,000 people are expected. The major construction will begin after these two events have taken place. In order to ensure that businesses are more accessible during the day as well, most of the construction will take place at night.
“Short-term, this will beautify [the city] right away, and then regarding functionality we’ll see results,” said Crawford. Though he admits the construction may take some getting used to, he remains hopeful that these changes promise a better future for the city.