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Ideas flow in all directions to change Rt. 22

| Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Suggestions, such as adding trees and sidewalks along Route 22 and encouraging redevelopment that would make the area more pedestrian-friendly, were presented Tuesday.

Proposals were offered yesterday during the first of three daylong sessions to obtain Monroeville residents' ideas for the municipality's streetscape project -- designed to bring a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere to the busy route.

After almost 10 hours of sketching out ideas and mapping out a plan, consultants with Urban Designs Associates presented a progress report to council.

"We're getting some good feedback," said Paul Ostergaard, project manager with Urban Design Associates. "We expect to get more."

Designing the master plan would cost about $125,000. Immediate improvements, such as landscaping, curbing, sidewalks and lighting, would cost about $1.8 million.

Urban Design Associates held focus-group meetings with residents in October and November to get their ideas. The groups were asked what they like and dislike about Monroeville and what they envision for the municipality. They were among those who presented information to Urban Design Associates yesterday.

Maps from earlier focus-group responses were placed on display at the municipal building to show residents what already has been performed in the streetscape project, said Amanda Settelmaier, communications director for Monroeville.

Traffic engineer Ian Lockwood showed Monroeville engineer Paul Hugus places where traffic patterns could be changed to help traffic flow around Monroeville Mall. Other engineers drew trees and sidewalks on maps to give people an image of what some of the changes could look like.

In the hallway yesterday were before-and-after pictures from other projects that Urban Design Associates have performed -- as far away as Anaheim, Calif.

Representatives from Urban Design Associates will continue today and Friday forming ideas to change Route 22.

Each day's session runs from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Architects provide an overview of the day's developments on the municipality's cable Channel 15 at 7 p.m.

Cochran Automotive's $18 million relocation and expansion of the dealership on Route 22 has been viewed as the first phase of the streetscape project, with completion expected by the fourth quarter this year.

Cochran Automotive is among local businesses and developers contributing to the project. The dealership has promised to assist in developing plans for the Route 22 project.

Funding is expected to come from a variety of sources, including Monroeville Council, grants from the Department of Community and Economic Development and local businesses.

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