McKees Rocks – The entrance to the downtown McKees Rocks business district will be getting a revamp thanks to a $1.9 million PennDOT Multimodal Transportation Fund grant being awarded to the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (MRCDC).
This money will be combined with $1.1 million of funding the Borough of McKees Rocks and MRCDC have already been awarded through the ALCOSAN GROW program and the PA Commonwealth Finance Authority to complete the first phase of the Lower Chartiers Avenue Streetscape Plan, conceptualized in early 2015.
“I was proud to support the Chartiers Avenue Streetscape project as it is a great opportunity to assist in the continued reemergence of the McKees Rocks business district,” said Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny). “The community is at its best when everyone is working towards the same goal, which ultimately is a better community for residents and businesses.”
The initial phase – expected to cost approximately $3 million to complete – builds a redesigned roadway, safe sidewalks/crosswalks, public right-of-way, and other improvements at the community’s gateway. Future phases are planned that encompass much of lower Chartiers Avenue.
“Overcoming years of challenges by working together has allowed a new downtown McKees Rocks to come into focus,” said Taris Vrcek, executive director at MRCDC. “The timing of this award coinciding with the May opening of the Roxian Theatre adds momentum to further catalytic development on available properties on lower Chartiers.”
Amongst other major changes to the public right-of-way and sub-surface infrastructure, the award includes funds for ADA-compliant sidewalks and crosswalks, curbing, bus lanes, pedestrian circulation, bike racks, traffic signals and new street lighting beginning at the intersection of Chartiers Avenue, Linden Avenue and Furnace Street Ext. and extending northwest along the first block of Chartiers Avenue and down McDonald’s Way.
“Overcoming years of challenges by working together has allowed a new downtown McKees Rocks to come into focus. The timing of this award coinciding with the May opening of the Roxian Theatre adds momentum to further catalytic development on available properties on lower Chartiers.”
– Taris Vrcek, Executive Director MRCDC
“An aesthetically pleasing streetscape that improves pedestrian and vehicular traffic flows will create a more navigable, cohesive feel for the Lower Chartiers business district, which can only help to attract more consumers to the area,” said Craig Rippole of Trinity Commercial Development, whose company owns and manages more than 120,000 square feet of retail space in the business district.
In conjunction with aesthetics, the streetscape improvements serve as a vital safety measure.
“The first phase is critical because it informs the behavior of motorists as they drive into the most visible part of our downtown,” said Jeb Feldman, director of economic development at MRCDC. “This project sets the table for a downtown that will become a safe and attractive home to increased pedestrian and business activity. We want a downtown corridor and main street that is accessible to everyone and functions well for all modes of transportation.”
In addition to the street level work, this project includes the installation of a separated stormwater system in this currently combined sewer system shed. The newly installed stormwater system will include a high capacity outfall to enable additional plug-ins of stormwater separations in the future as roadwork continues uphill and further into town.
Going forward, MRCDC will be working with the Borough, property owners, PennDOT, and the community of McKees Rocks on implementing the project.
“We are very grateful for the state’s continued investment in McKees Rocks,” said Paul Krisby, borough council president. “The Lower Chartiers Avenue Streetscape will help drive the revitalization of our downtown business district and complement the industrial development occurring in and around the CSX Intermodal Terminal.”
PennDOT takes into consideration such criteria as safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency, and operational sustainability when making selections for Multimodal Transportation Fund awards.