HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A deadly pedestrian crash on State Street is raising questions about Harrisburg’s Vision Zero plan, a project to end all traffic deaths by 2030. Making State Street safer is the next project on the city’s list, but not everyone agrees on how to do that.
In 2022, the city scrapped an earlier plan for State Street after public criticism. The city submitted a new plan to PennDOT in summer and hope to start construction in the spring of 2023, but not everyone is on board.
“How many people are allowed to die every so many years trying to walk across this street?” said Ross Willard of Recycle Bicycle.
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Willard does not think State Street is safe for pedestrians — or bikers.
“You have to run across seven lanes,” he said.
For him, the recent deadly crash drives that home. On Tuesday, Jan. 24, police say several cars hit a woman on State, near North 16th Street. She was taken to the hospital but died of her injuries.
“Our biggest complaint is we really have not solved the pedestrian problem,” Willard said.
The City of Harrisburg is trying, placing State Street at the top of its list for upcoming Vision Zero projects.
“Front Street is completed; Second Street, big project is completed,” Director of Communications Matt Maisel said.
The city had a plan in 2022, which included a protected bike lane and fewer lanes of traffic for people to cross, but neighbors opposed it because it would limit parking. The city listened.
“For too long, they had administrations that did not listen to their concerns,” Maisel said of neighbors in the area.
Maisel said the new plan, which no longer has a bike lane and does not reduce lanes of traffic, still addresses pedestrian safety.
“More crosswalks, better-lit crosswalks… better-timed stop lights, longer walk signals,” he listed.
“Pedestrians are still left to scramble across the [road] and play Frogger,” he said.
He wants the city to do more.
“We’d like to see narrow lanes, protected biking, pedestrian bump-outs if necessary,” he said. He said he’d also like to see islands in the center of the street.
Maisel said the city has to balance everyone’s concerns. Pedestrians are certainly a priority.
“There are more bike riders nowadays, people are trying to be environmentally friendly, more people walk nowadays for the same reason,” Maisel said.
However, Maisel said the city also has to handle the fact that many people commute into Harrisburg daily.
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“It would be derelict of us to not have roads that can accommodate that increase in traffic,” he said.
The city is making final revisions to its State Street plan before submitting it to contractors and getting a price tag, which city council then has to approve. Maisel said they still want to add a bike lane, and reduce lanes of traffic in order to protect pedestrians, but that could be a few years away.