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Scottdale pedestrian/bike path plans proceed

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

Plans are proceeding for a proposed pedestrian/bike path in Scottdale along the west side of Grove Street between Pittsburgh Street and the Southmoreland elementary and middle school complex.

The proposal was on display Feb. 19 at Scottdale Public Library, an event Borough Manager Angelo Pallone said was attended by a handful of residents in that area. Also in attendance were representative of council, borough officials and representatives of PennDOT.

“Although we did not get a big turnout, I think the people that had the most concerns were there,” Pallone said.

About $500,000 in state funds are being provided in the form of a grant for the project which includes replacing sidewalks and curbs, updating curb ramps at intersections, minor drainage adjustments, signing and pavement markings.

“We're going to put in an eight-foot walk and bike way,” Pallone explained. “The reason we did that is because that is the main route for the kids — we have crossing guards on that route. It's not a real highly traveled street as far as traffic. There's beautiful homes along the corridor. We would like to, at some point, tie in the bike trail to downtown and then up to there.” Councilman Bud Santimyer said this is part of the Safe Routes to School project council started discussing in 2008.

“This is a way to improve our sidewalks and the crossings without dipping into borough funds to do it,” Santimyer said. “The fact that it will also make it safer for the students to walk or bike to adds to the benefits.”

Thomas O'Brien of GAI Consultants, engineering firm for the project, also stressed how improving the walkways can create a safer environment.

“The existing sidewalks are old and not in good shape,” O'Brien said. “So this ensures a safe walk or ride for students to get to school.”

Pallone said there were concerns raised by residents in attendance, some of which dealt with the potential removal of trees in the area.

“There's some beautiful trees, but those trees are probably at least 80 years old,” Pallone said. “(The trees are) tearing up the sidewalks already. The street and the curbing in one block is damaged with tree roots ... We have the right or the necessity to take down whatever is in the right of way. The big thing is, we are not taking property from the owners.”

Pallone said trees could possibly be planted on residents' properties.

“There's nothing final, but it is a possibility,” he said. “Maybe if there's money left over, the grant could allow that.”

Pallone added parking on the street will not be affected.

Another concern dealt with controlling water drainage in the area, which could possibly be rectified by tying in a pipe to a storm sewer, thus rerouting the water.

Now that public input has been collected, approval will be needed from PennDOT for the final design.

Santimyer is anxious to see the project completed after many years of discussion.

“It's a great idea to improve our infrastructure and give our kids a safer route to school,” he said.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or ppaterra@tribweb.com. Rachel Basinger contributed to this story.

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