York’s West Jackson Street Project Near Completion

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clement Alleyne moved to West Jackson Street in 1984.

“It was nice, but it needed work,” he said.

Some 30 years later, it was definitely due for a change, Alleyne said.

With the help of several community partners, a $1 million improvement project has repaved the streets, updated lighting and added water-retention flower beds. Utility companies Columbia Gas and York Water have also replaced antiquated pipelines in the community.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26558416/west-jackson-street-project-near-completion

Interstate 70 Modernization Projects To Move Highway Into 21st Century

Belle Vernon/ Speers Bridge

Belle Vernon/ Speers Bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This road was a death-trap when I was living in the Mon Valley back in the 1970’s.  Glad it only took 40 years for PennDot to realize it!

A grassy mound in the backyard of Melvin “Bucky” Walkush’s childhood home is the only visible reminder of the popular carhop restaurant that served the best pizza he’s ever tasted.

It was the 1950s. Elvis topped the charts. Ike was in the White House. The Ford Thunderbird was one of the hottest cars around.

And the New 71 Barbeque along old state Route 71 in North Belle Vernon, owned by Walkush’s brother Joe and his wife, Adeline, was the place to stop for anyone using the highway linking Greensburg and Washington, Pa.

The restaurant is gone now, and the stretch of Route 71 that Walkush, 84, remembers was decommissioned in the 1960s to become part of Interstate 70 between New Stanton and Washington.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5870537-74/washington-walkush-highway#ixzz32BzJh8u9
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Wrightsville Is Part Of New Lights Project On Veterans Memorial Bridge

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Veterans Memorial Bridge project involving Lancaster County has been an enlightening experience for Wrightsville Mayor Neil Habecker.

“It’s like changing the front door on your house,” he said. “This should raise the property value of the community.”

Habecker said he is excited about the bridge lighting project to install 65 new cast-iron lights with 1930s-style lantern design and LED bulbs.

For the project, Wrightsville entered into a bridge maintenance partnership with Columbia Borough and West Hempfield Township, both in Lancaster County. The three municipalities have been discussing the project for about five years to replace the current old, rusting cobra head light fixtures, Habecker said.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25783506/wrightsville-is-part-new-lights-project-veterans-memorial

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$300M Being Pumped Into I-81Between Wilkes-Barre And Scranton

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christopher Santizo faces a challenge every time he drives to class at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke.

The 29-year-old graphic design and advertising student who commutes from Duryea, said construction on Interstate 81 routinely has made it difficult to get to class on time.

“I’ve been everywhere from stopped to 45 miles per hour,” he said.

He is among an estimated 70,000 drivers who traverse a half-dozen Pennsylvania Department of Transportation construction projects totaling more than $100 million between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. Upon completion of those projects, PennDOT will begin widening the highway near Scranton to the tune of $174 million — ensuring years of additional construction zones.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1333853/Endless-I-81-construction-tests-drivers-patience

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U.S. Senator Bob Casey Backs Community Development Funding

English: Official photo of Senator Bob Casey (...

English: Official photo of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wants more money allocated to the Community Development Block Grant program to allow municipalities to decide what projects are most needed and have the funding to complete them.

During a teleconference Wednesday, Casey, D-Scranton, said the Obama administration has proposed cutting CDBG funding by more than $200 million this year. Casey wants the allocation to be increased in 2015.

“CDBG has played an instrumental role in advancing locally driven projects that create jobs and contribute to economic growth,” Casey said. “The cuts proposed in the administration’s budget could limit the ability of municipalities in Pennsylvania to complete economic development projects that are essential.”

He said he’s pushing for Congress to increase the funding.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1298260/Casey-backs-community-development-funding

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Progress Reported In Talks On Funding For State Transportation

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – A key state House Republican negotiator said Friday he was optimistic about the chances that the chamber will pass a plan to fund billions in improvements to Pennsylvania’s highways, bridges and mass transit systems, with a preliminary vote possible within a week.

Dave Thomas, an aide to Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, said that the total amount of new transportation funding in the bill was likely to be between $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion a year.

The state Senate voted overwhelmingly in June for a $2.5 billion proposal, a key agenda item of Gov. Tom Corbett’s, but that plan stalled in the House.

Thomas said he expected talks between House Democrats and Republicans to go through the weekend.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=516824

Reading City Council Moves On Plan To Fix Aging Sewer System

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The administration and City Council on Monday revved up the plan to fix the city’s estimated 170 miles of sanitary sewer pipe, awarding an $847,747 contract to a firm just to oversee other contractors’ investigations of what’s wrong.

Hazen & Sawyer, Philadelphia, will use the voluminous data coming in from those other probes to build a computer model of the pipe system, assess where its problems are and what repairs are needed, and evaluate which areas will need more capacity in coming years.

“It’s important to have a firm that can handle the data,” Deborah A.S. Hoag, city utility systems manager, told council members.

She said the data coming from other contractors – who have built a special map of the system and televised and smoke-tested many of the pipes – is phenomenally huge.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=516474

Pittsburgh’s Water And Sewer Rates Will Rise To Cover Capital Improvements

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will see their rates rise over the next four years to help pay for capital improvement to the city’s antiquated infrastructure, projected to cost $150 million over the next three years.

The board of PWSA voted todaty to approve a graduated rate increases for 2014 through 2017. The average household customer will see rates increase about $8.29 a month over three years, from $42.03 a month to $50.32 a month. Rates will rise about $3 a month for the first year, $1.94 for the second, $1.26 for the third and 77 cents for the fourth.

Larger consumers — like industrial customers — will share a larger portion of the increased burden.

The additional revenue will be used to pay down the $150 million bond issue expected to be finalized by the end of this year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburghs-water-and-sewer-rates-will-rise-to-cover-capital-improvements-707198/#ixzz2hRV7cnjN

Lehigh County Commissioners Kill Costco TIF

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lehigh County commissioners on Wednesday night rejected tax financing for Hamilton Crossings, possibly closing the door to popular retailers Costco and Whole Foods in the Lehigh Valley.

Developers of the proposed $140 million Costco-anchored shopping center in Lower Macungie Township have said they will walk away without tax increment financing, which required support from the county, township and the East Penn School District.

County commissioners were considered the most significant hurdle to the TIF proposal, which would allow up to $7 million in tax dollars generated by the shopping center to be used to finance the work.

Commissioners shot down the TIF in a 6-3 vote that broke from their usual voting blocs and surprised many. Commissioners Tom Creighton, Percy Dougherty and David Jones voted in favor of the proposal; Commissioners Scott Ott, Lisa Scheller, Mike Schware, Brad Osborne, Vic Mazziotti and Dan McCarthy voted against it.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-lehigh-county-costco-tif-20130626,0,2078873.story#ixzz2XQao9y4y 
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Votes Push Development Along Pottstown’s Keystone Boulevard

Editor’s note:  We find ourselves in agreement with the majority on council who voted for this undertaking.  We also feel the tax breaks for Heritage Coach Co. were necessary.  Having that property sit idle accomplishes nothing and provides no income for the borough or the school district.  It also provides no employment which means there is less money to be spent on existing Pottstown businesses.  Until the word gets out to the investment community that Pottstown is open for business and that establishing a business in Pottstown is a good idea, incentives will need to be used to attract development.  

Cleaning up Pottstown would go along way towards fostering development.  Nobody wants to open a business in a crime-ridden community.  Unfortunately, that is the perception you are dealing with, whether it’s entirely true or not.  Perception IS reality.  Cracking down on crime, Section 8 housing and the pervasive drug problem need to be priority one in order to attract business, industry and homeowners.   The number of rental units is too high, partly due to reputation of the Pottstown School District, the reputation of Pottstown Borough and the high taxes.  Any real estate professional will tell you the same thing.  Selling a home in Pottstown is difficult.

POTTSTOWN — Prospects for development along Keystone Boulevard have been bolstered by two votes of borough council Monday evening.

With a unanimous vote, the council approved a “memorandum of understanding” with West Pottsgrove that pledges both municipalities to pursue efforts to extend Keystone Boulevard, which runs parallel to West High Street and the Schuylkill River, into West Pottsgrove to connect with Grosstown Road.

“It’s a conceptual agreement for defining a path to move forward,” Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. explained to council.

The extension of Keystone Boulevard through the former Flagg Brass property in West Pottsgrove and over to the Stowe interchange has long been envisioned and was the subject of an $81,000 study by the Rettew Associates engineering firm.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130613/NEWS01/130619600/votes-push-development-along-pottstown-s-keystone-blvd-#full_story

More Efficient Parking Still A Wilkes-Barre Priority

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE — A more than year-old study done by a potential vendor showed the “hidden value” in the city’s parking meters.   But the city is no longer interested and won’t see the increased revenue from using the company’s automated technology.

The pilot program conducted in late 2011 by StreetSmart Technology LLC put more parkers at the 45 meters involved in the program and boosted the daily revenue at the downtown spots.

“It proved that there is hidden value in the system,” Drew McLaughlin, city municipal affairs manager, said Friday.

However, the city held off on committing to use the company’s automated technology while it pursued a long-term lease of the parking assets in conjunction with the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority for a minimum of $20 million to pay down debt and for infrastructure improvements and public safety.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/565159/More-efficient-parking-still-a-W-B-priority

PPL To Add Distribution Improvement Charge To Bills

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PPL Utilities customers will soon see a new addition to their bills: a special charge aimed at financing speedier improvements to the Allentown-based utility’s electricity distribution system.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved the new fee, which can be added to bills starting in July. Proceeds can be used to “recover reasonable and prudent costs incurred to repair, improve or replace certain eligible distribution property that is part of a utility’s distribution system.”

The commission approved PPL’s five-year accelerated infrastructure replacement plan in January.  The plan includes more than $135 million in system improvements and reliability upgrades this year, and a total of $700 million between now and 2017.

Customers’ bills are expected to increase by about 0.44 percent, or 20 cents on the bill of a typical residential customer with 1,000 kilowatt-hours of monthly usage.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-ppl-distribution-charge-20130523,0,881996.story

Met-Ed To Invest $116 Million

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Metropolitan-Edison Co. plans a $116 million expansion of its electrical infrastructure in 15 counties, including Berks, the utility said Thursday.

In northern Berks, the FirstEnergy subsidiary will spend nearly $10 million to improve service and capacity for future growth in an area now serving 40,000 to 50,000 customers, according to Scott Surgeoner, Met-Ed spokesman.

On Thursday, workers tackled the upgrade at the Northkill substation along Route 183 in Jefferson Township. The project in Berks should be completed by June.

The area includes everything within the parameters of Route 183 north from Route 222 to Interstate 78, east to Route 61 and south to Route 222.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=468434

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority Approves Hazelwood Tax Increment Financing Plans

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board got the ball rolling Thursday for the largest piece of tax increment financing in the city’s history — an $80 million to $90 million package that would fund roads, utilities, parks and other public improvements for a proposed $900 million office and residential development in Hazelwood.

While URA board members unanimously approved preliminary plans for the funding in Hazelwood, some members criticized city council for holding up a $50 million TIF for a proposed $400 million to $500 million Buncher Co. development in the Strip District and wondered whether the Hazelwood package would suffer a similar fate.

The TIF must be approved by the city, the Pittsburgh Public Schools and Allegheny County.

“This is the beginning of a very long process,” said URA board member Jim Ferlo, a Democratic state senator from Highland Park.  “There are going to be a lot of hurdles, if not some significant roadblocks.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/ura-approves-hazelwood-tif-plans-669989/#ixzz2Hgyhruih

PPL Customers Will See About 4 Percent Increase In Bill

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Customers of PPL Electric Utilities will see monthly bills increase by about 4 percent next year, resulting from recent state Public Utility Commission action.

The PUC on Dec. 5 granted Allentown-based PPL a 10.4 percent rate of return on income for shareholders.  The approval will increase the average bill for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity monthly by about $4.77 to $116.37, according to a PUC estimate.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/ppl-customers-will-see-about-4-percent-increase-in-bill-1.1415026