WILKES-BARRE — Gov. Tom Wolf and PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards on Tuesday announced the approval of funding for 82 projects — including two in Luzerne County — to improve transportation alternatives and enhance mobility and public accessibility.
Wilkes University received $1,156,616 for pedestrian safety enhancements on South Franklin Street and West South Street, including replacement of damaged sidewalks, curb replacement, construction of concrete crosswalks, and the installation of pedestrian lighting. This funding supplements a $360,000 state award.
Pittston City, meanwhile, received $999,897 for sidewalk, curb, and drainage improvements along North Main Street.
Wolf’s administration awarded $66.8 million total statewide.
“Building for the future includes improving access to a variety of transportation options and these investments will promote safety and mobility for communities across Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said.
PennDOT evaluated the applications and made selections based on such criteria as safety benefits, reasonableness of cost, readiness for implementation and statewide or regional significance.
Wilkes spokeswoman Gabrielle D’Amico said the funding makes the next phase of the Wilkes campus enhancement plan possible, improving pedestrian safety while beautifying the area of South Franklin between West Ross and West South streets. D’Amico said the block houses important campus facilities, including the Arnaud C. Marts Center, the Max Roth Center and several residence halls.
D’Amico said similar streetscape improvements were completed last year on South Franklin between West South and West Northampton streets.
“This project will mimic those improvements with new sidewalks, curbs and streetlights,” D’Amico explained.
Wilkes has several campus projects kicking off this summer in the area of the Henry Student Center and Fenner Quadrangle. She said the pedestrian safety and enhancement project on South Franklin is at least one year out as the university focuses on the imminent enhancements in the heart of campus.
She said similar improvements are anticipated next summer, allowing Wilkes to transform South Main Street between South and Northampton streets.
Mayor Mike Lombardo said his city is currently in process of completing two streetscape projects. He said the new funding will be used for the city’s seventh streetscape project in the Junction section near the Duryea Borough line.
He said the base design work on the project is complete and it will run from Curry Street south to New Street. He said the work could be extended if funding is available.
Lombardo said the city does not have to match any of the grant funding and he noted that the process was very competitive.
“We’ve spent a lot of time improving the center city and this will go to improving the northernmost point of the city,” said the mayor.