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History, transportation themes central to Irwin facelift

| Friday, June 18, 2010

Irwin's Hometown Streets committee unveiled detailed plans for the borough's upcoming facelift.

Hometown Streets is a PennDOT initiative to refurbish downtown areas. The organization provided Irwin with $1.9 million for its streetscape project.

Borough manager Mary Benko and Hometown Streets chairman Mike DeFelice said the plans are in their preliminary stages and must be submitted to PennDOT for approval.

Plans to update the borough's Main Street corridor revolve around a history and transportation theme.

Benko said the plans address the entire length of Main Street and make improvements to intersections, curbs and the business district's overall aesthetics.

Improvements include safety corners and curbs, which will make the borough's business district handicap-accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disability Act. Each of Main Street's intersections will be redone with perpendicular crosswalks and a maroon asphalt finish, with the borough logo in the middle.

"It's not brick, but it will look similar," DeFelice said.

The borough's new logo features Victorian-style ornamentation and the town's clock tower building, colored in antique reds, whites and blues.

It also features the tagline "Find Your Place Here."

Council approved the logo, designed by Strothman & Associates, a Pittsburgh-based branding and public relations firm, earlier this year. It cost $7,528, and was paid for with grant money from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Officials plan to use the logo on all official borough documents and letterhead, as well. The plans include matching benches, trashcans, bike racks and a bus stop shelter along Main Street. Benko said committee members are still discussing installing ornamental light posts with PennDOT and Allegheny Power officials.

"Our whole budget fluctuates around whether or not we install ornamental lighting," she said.

Public works director Jim Halfhill said the benches, trashcans and streetlights will either be cast iron or steel with a black powder coating, depending upon the project's budget.

Benko said officials plan to post larger, more ornate gateway signs on Route 30, Water Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, also done in black cast iron or steel.

The borough's largest gateway is planned for the traffic island near Dunkin' Donuts, which connects Route 30 to 10th Street, Benko said. Matching signs will be placed to direct traffic into the borough's business district and parking lots.

Throughout the Main Street corridor, Benko said officials plan to plant trees. Although no official type of tree was selected, she said officials plan to install boxes to keep the trees' roots from growing under and lifting the sidewalks.

Benko said the committee has gradually submitted portions of the streetscape plans to PennDOT officials. She expects to submit final plans to PennDOT within the next couple of months. She said the committee hopes to start the streetscapes construction by next spring.

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