Last updated: February 16. 2013 10:41PM - 246 Views

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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Revised plans for the River Street Corridor Improvement Project would keep two lanes southbound and eliminate turn ‚??channels‚?Ě at the Market Street intersection.

The proposal was unveiled by consulting engineers Pennoni Associates Inc. during the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association‚??s monthly breakfast Friday.

The original plan was drawn up in an effort to calm traffic on the busy thoroughfare between South and North streets, improving access to the new River Common and the two portals that allow pedestrians to walk through the levee to the riverfront.

Plans unveiled about a year ago called for reducing much of the corridor from four lanes to two ‚?? with some left turn lanes ‚?? and installing granite medians or green ‚??islands‚?Ě between the lanes.

But critics at public meetings contended the changes would clog traffic and not improve pedestrian safety. On Friday, Pennoni Engineer Stephen Sartori said those concerns were considered in consultation with PennDOT and revisions were made.

The revisions will be on display at a public meeting set for Sept. 18, but Sartori gave the business association a preview.

The biggest change is the elimination of the medians and the return of two lanes throughout in one direction. Coupled with that, the original proposal to retain ‚??channelized‚?Ě turning lanes onto and off the Market Street Bridge is scrapped in favor of making it a more conventional, signaled four-way intersection.

This would mean drivers traveling southbound on River Street and turning onto the bridge or traveling eastbound on Market and turning off the bridge onto River Street would no longer be able to make those turns when the light is red.

It also means elimination of the right-turn-only lane onto the bridge, so both southbound lanes on River could continue South toward Northampton Street, rather than the current right-turn-only lane funneling traffic onto the bridge.

Sartori said that change would substantially increase traffic flow during peak hours while making it safer for pedestrians.

A proposed median from Union to Jackson Streets is dropped in the new plan, essentially retaining the current four-lane flow. A larger median from South Street to within a few hundred feet of Northampton would be replaced by a raised median ‚??stamped‚?Ě to look like brick or a similar material, and a proposed shoulder on the southbound side would be moved to the northbound, or city side, along Wilkes University.

The northbound lane from Market to the Millennium portal would be one lane with a raised, stamped median, up to a crosswalk with no signal. After that, River Street would remain two lanes in both directions, as it is now. Improvements in both signals and signs would be made at all intersections to increase pedestrian safety.

Sartori said the early plans had been drafted with a possible construction date of 2014, but the revisions probably push it to 2015.


What: Public review and comment of revised plans for River Street Corridor Improvement project.

When: Sept 18, 6 p.m.

Where: Wilkes University Henry Student Center, 84 West South St.

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