MACUNGIE BOROUGH COUNCIL
Macungie Borough Council President Chris Becker conducted a public meeting for the second phase of the Macungie Streetscape Plan at Macungie Institute Jan. 22. Phase Two encompasses the area of Main Street from Race Street to Pine Alley.
The history of the project was briefly discussed.
In 2004, the Trail Master Plan was adopted and sidewalks were constructed in 2008. In 2009, the Lehigh Street Trail extension, the Lehigh Street deco lights installation and construction of a pedestrian bridge over Mountain Creek occurred.
In 2014, the master plan was updated and 2015 brought about the funds needed from an award through the Transportation Alternatives Program with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Community Development Block Grant Program. Transportation Highway Program funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation was received in 2017.
Completed work to date includes the installation of sidewalks, bump outs, stormwater improvements, handicap ramps, a traffic signal and a lighted crosswalk.
The importance of the bump outs was discussed. Bump outs slow traffic, shops can be more noticeable as motorists drive through the borough, it is easier to establish a walking community as pedestrians are more noticeable standing at the bump out and they also help with stormwater drainage, slowing the water flow and filtering the water. Planting of shrubs, perennials and grasses is included in the bump outs. The grasses are critical to water quality.
Phase Two of this project includes the planting of street trees. Also included are ornamental lights with LED lights and brick pavers. The lighting will provide uniform lighting, eliminate glare into resident’s homes and provide uniform lighting for pedestrians. The current cobra street lights will be removed.
The trees chosen for this phase will not flower, will grow to about 20 feet, will have a 7-foot clearance, they grow in a cone shape and will turn yellow in the fall. The tree, the City Sprite Zelkova, was chosen because it is sturdy, tougher and salt resistant. The lack of flowers will eliminate messiness.
The existing lighted crosswalk is being replaced with new wiring, lights and crosswalk markings. This crosswalk is necessary due to the amount of pedestrians crossing Route 100 at this intersection. This improves the walk-ability of the borough.
Residents in attendance spoke about the care of the trees which will be done by the borough.
The second phase will not be as invasive for traffic as the first.
The proposed island has been tabled at this time due to the time constraints for bidding the project and to provide time to address PennDOT’s comments. Nonetheless, concerns were expressed by residents such as truckers negotiating turns and damage done by trucks to snow plows.
An increased amount of trucks traverse the borough due to the expansion of warehousing in Lower Macungie Township. These trucks were not as much a concern for borough council as the trucks making deliveries to businesses within the borough that are having problems making turns because of the bump outs. Council has met with the business owners impacted and resolved all their issues except for the bump out on the south side of Race Street, which is currently being redesigned.
Council was asked who would be responsible for damaged curbing, weeding and shoveling of the bump outs. It is the property owner’s responsibility to shovel their sidewalk, including the ADA ramps in the bump outs. Ultimately, the property owner is responsible for damaged curb and the property owners will be asked to assist with removing garbage in the bump outs. Council has not yet determined who will weed the plant beds.
Dan Hummel, from Allen Organ spoke about truck turns off of Race Street. The construction of the bump out causes trucks to make a very wide right turn going into the oncoming traffic lane. The Church Street right turn is also very tight for large vehicles.
A resident from Coach Street, which runs parallel with Route 100, said people use this street, which is only an alley, to avoid Main Street and the traffic light on Main Street. She noted speed is a concern on Coach Street.
A concern was expressed over sidewalk clearing during snowstorms; it was suggested sidewalk clearing be enforced because it is an ordinance of the borough.
Council was questioned if the grant reimburses the engineering costs to design this project. Residents were told the grant covers 100 percent of construction and inspection costs. However, engineering expenses for design and permitting are paid by the borough.
Another resident wanted to know how much this project affects the borough’s budget. This will be discussed by council.
A resident expressed concern about all the signage on Main Street saying the trees will block the sign visibility. A problem was also raised about the street lights and vehicles parked along Main Street hitting them when opening their doors.
A resident asked if the fire company had been consulted about the ability for fire trucks to access areas with the bump outs.
Council was asked if all of the lights on Main Street will be synchronized.
Lastly, a resident expressed concern about the need for announcing meetings of this nature of interest to the public.