Catasauqua receives TAP grant for Front Street project
“We received a call from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission asking for us to attend the meeting,” said Catasauqua Borough Manager Eugene Goldfeder. The borough applied for a Transportation Alternative Project (TAP) grant. “There are a lot of municipalities competing for these dollars, and I think we made a good case for our project,” Goldfeder said. Since the 1990s, over $20 million has been awarded locally to more than 50 TAP projects.
“Investing in our local transportation infrastructure enhances transportation and recreation options for all users of non-motorized modes of travel, improves air quality and promotes connectivity of paths and trails” said Becky Bradley, LVPC executive director at the award ceremony April 6. Of the $1.27 million dollars awarded this year, Catasauqua received $292,126 for Front Street.
According to the presentation description, Front Street in Catasauqua serves as the borough’s primary commercial and mixed-use corridor, and it currently lacks appropriate bicycle and pedestrian amenities and facilities.
“We asked for the grant as part of the Iron Works project,” Goldfeder said. This TAP request serves to improve safety and enhance mobility through the installation of street trees, bicycle racks, pedestrian scale signage, street benches, and sidewalk and decorative lighting.
The grant encourages a streetscape proposal made by Spillman Farmer Architects and Taggart Associates. According to Goldfeder, the grant allows us to pursue the borough’s preliminary plans introduced in November. The Spillman Farmer plan showed broad sidewalks with access to urban dining and other activities along with a revamped intersection at Bridge and Front streets.
Taggart Associates emphasized in their concepts that Catasauqua needs to have unique shops to attract visitors. One of the ideas floated is to attract bicyclists using the D&L Trail. Incorporating access to the D&L Trail is a prime target for rejuvenating Catasauqua’s canal area.
Catasauqua is working closely with FL Schmidt to get access to abandoned railroad right-of-way along the Lehigh River. The property extends along the river from the Iron Works site into North Catasauqua.
LVPC recognized that Catasauqua’s project is shovel ready and can leverage private economic development on the Iron Works site. Provisions of the grant call for the borough to upgrade the proposed intersection of Bridge Street and Front Street. The borough recently came to an agreement with the owner of the historical property at 440 Front Street. The brick structure will be demolished to allow access to the Iron Works project.
According to the site plans, the Bridge and Front Street intersection will be a key crossroad in the borough. The grant allows for bump-outs, ADA curb cuts, crosswalks and traffic-calming devices to keep the intersection pedestrian-friendly. TAP grants are for alternatives to automotive traffic.
Council proposed that Front Street be converted to two-way traffic to accommodate the Iron Works development. No definite decisions are made as to when the conversion will happen.
In a plan released in November, parking on one side of Front Street is eliminated. Council President Vincent Smith promised that the borough would find suitable parking to replace any parking spaces lost. The borough is also faced with changes to the Front and Race streets intersection as PennDOT works to relieve congestion at Lehigh Street and Race Street.