New sidewalks to provide fresh look for West Newton's Main Street
By Stacey Federoff
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
After the sound of the jackhammer and the concrete dust has settled, West Newton will have an updated Main Street.
A $127,200 project through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is replacing the sidewalks between Third and Water streets along Main Street.
The project was first applied for by borough Secretary Pam Humenik in 2005 as a part of PennDOT's Hometown Streets program.
“I was really excited that we are one of the communities to be chosen,” she said.
Work was begun April 1 with the removal of trees and old sidewalks on the north side of the street by Tony Baiano Construction Company Inc., of Baldwin.
The program is meant to revitalize central thoroughfares to encourage more foot-traffic and promote healthy living in cooperation with federal agencies.
“PennDOT's role is the oversight that the federal funds get spent correctly,” said Ryan Willby, project coordinator.
Willby asks residents and visitors to be patient during the construction, which is planned for completion by June 16, especially with parking and marked construction areas.
“They need to be careful and safe,” he said. “Our contractor's been pretty responsible in the past on other projects.”
He said any concerns can be directed to the daily project inspector or the borough.
Humenik said she wanted to thank Downtown West Newton Inc., which contributed $42,000 from a former project to engineering and inspection costs.
President Aaron Nelson said the improvements will help business owners on Main Street, who would otherwise have to replace the walkways on their own.
“It's going to really give a better look of continuity from the bridge to Third Street,” he said. “It's going to clean it up from a sidewalks and streets perspective.”
The new sidewalks will include a brick-stamped border along the walkways and other new street markings.
Growth and sidewalk damage from the trees had concerned some Main Street business owners, Nelson said.
“It's a shame that the trees are going, but I know there's been issues with the property owners over time,” he said.
Further beautification like planters or decorative lighting may be added in the future, Nelson said.
Originally, Humenik said she also requested to include brick-stamped crosswalks, but those would have interfered with embedded timing mechanisms for traffic lights that were added a few years ago.
PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said eight years have passed since the borough applied because the proper procedures had to be followed in cooperation between the borough, state and federal organizations.
“There's been a lot of different pieces of the puzzle that had to fit together for it to work,” she said.
Humenik said she is encouraged by the development going on in the borough, including the long-awaited construction under way at Simeral Square, which is nearby the end of the new sidewalks at Water and Main streets.
“These two projects being completed along with the proposed farmer's market is going to put a fresh face on West Newton,” she said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6660.
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