HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The construction along Second Street has caused its share of frustrations for residents. But no one seems too concerned about the planned end result: a two-way street with three roundabouts and roughly the same amount of street parking as exists today.
It’s a different story along State Street in Allison Hill, east of the State Street bridge, where residents are indeed concerned about the planned result — which indeed involves less parking in an area where they say parking is already scarce.
The broad goal for both projects was the same.
“It’s basically taking the road and what is called making a ‘road diet,’ where you’re literally shrinking the road so that traffic moves slower,” Harrisburg city spokesman Matt Maisel said. “And therefore it’s safer not only for drivers but for pedestrians.”
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On State Street, the plan involved a bicycle lane and the reduction of travel lanes to just one lane each way, except during rush hour in the direction of rush-hour traffic. The extra lane would come from prohibiting parking for two hours on the northbound side of the street from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the north side of State Street, where cars flow into the city, and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the south side, where cars flow home.
The problem: people who aren’t merely passing through.
“The public that live on the street were really unaware of what was going on,” said Evelyn Hunt, who moved to Allison Hill 60 years ago and owns a building at the intersection of State Street and 19th Street.
She said a requirement for residents to essentially move their cars twice a day — from one side of the street to the other — would have all kinds of unintended consequences.
“This is going to cause problems in the neighborhood of people arguing, fighting,” Hunt said. “We’re going to have parking wars.”
The project was years in the making. After it began, she and other residents demanded the city do something. The city, in turn, met with PennDOT, which this week told its contractor to stop.
“Finally, somebody is listening,” Hunt said.
Hunt knew about the plan year earlier. Why didn’t she complain then?
She says she tried. She was even on a committee that was supposed to have input.
“It was already a done deal,” she said. “‘This is what we’re going to do.’ “And I was not agreeable to it. I was telling them all of the negative things about it. And then all of a sudden I was no longer welcome at the meetings.”
As for the pause?
“I’m happy with the response,” Hunt said. “But I’m not comfortable because they didn’t say, ‘We’re definitely not going to do this.’ They said they’re going back to the drawing board.”
The task now, according to Maisel: “Figure out a plan that works for the works for the residents but also, at the same time, keeps the number one factor in mind, which is the safety of pedestrians in the area.”