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Route 50 to get facelift to 'Main Street feel' later this year

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Heidelberg manager Joe Kauer likes the quaint, “cute” look of many of the neighborhoods within the borough.

State Route 50, the main roadway, draws a different opinion.

“Route 50 is what 18,000 people see each day, and it's not that attractive,” Kauer said last week from his office, which overlooks the road.

Before the end of the year, though, Kauer expects the “ugly 1960s-era highway” to take on “a nice Main Street feel.”

His optimism comes because of the Tri-Community Revitalization Project, which took another step forward Jan. 28 when contractor A. Liberoni Inc. was given the notice to proceed with the project.

Kauer said the contractor began purchasing supplies for the project, which encompasses Carnegie, Heidelberg and Scott, and hopes to begin construction in late March. The hope is construction will be finished by the end of the year.

“It's going to be an aggressive construction schedule, but hopefully we can keep on this optimistic track,” Kauer said. “It will make 2013 a really neat year here.”

The streetscape project will improve Route 50 in Heidelberg, Carothers Avenue in Scott and Third Street in Carnegie.

Main facets of the project include sidewalk replacement and repair, new crosswalks and traffic signs, along with landscaping along the entire corridor. Decorative lamp posts and park benches are also planned.

“It's going to be a definite facelift in those areas — a much-needed facelift,” said Scott manager Denise Fitzgerald.

A long-awaited one, too.

The communities first discussed the project with Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, in 2006. Murphy secured $2.4 million in federal funding in 2008, but the planning process took years after that.

“It has been a long time coming — a long, frustrating process (with) a lot of setbacks,” Murphy said. “It wasn't moving anywhere near as fast as we wanted it. But it is happening now. ... Throughout this whole process, the elected officials and municipal managers really stuck to this and worked hard.”

The project also addresses safety by adding a sidewalk to one side of Route 50 in Heidelberg and replacing the existing sidewalk on the other side. In Scott, parking will switch from one side of Carothers Avenue to the other because of problems with tractor trailers hitting street lights. And in Carnegie, the new sidewalks will replace currently cracked and broken sidewalks.

“That's going to make parts of the communities certainly a lot nicer, a lot safer,” Murphy said.

Murphy and local officials believe the improvements will help existing businesses in those areas and encourage new ones to come in.

Patty Feeney and Marie Pencosky, owners of Corner Treasures Resale Shop on Third Street in Carnegie, said they followed the project for years and wondered if it was ever going to be done.

Now that it appears to have movement, they too hope it helps business.

“We are hoping to bring in some customers from outside the area,” Pencosky said. “Not just Carnegie.”

“If they make Carnegie more inviting, then (people) will come here,” Feeney added.

The communities also passed a comprehensive plan for economic development in 2012 and now are beginning implementation.

The Rev. David Poecking of Carnegie's St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, which moved into a renovated hall at the intersection of Third Avenue and Third Street in 2011, called the redevelopment ideas “encouraging.”

“Obviously, there's still work to be done without the Third Street project, but there are encouraging signs here and there,” Poecking said. “I look forward to seeing some improvements in the corridor.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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