With Hellertown’s diverse downtown business mix, its newly invigorated parks, and the ever-increasing popularity of the Saucon Rail Trail (SRT), people want to explore the community more by foot and bike.
However, until recently, one obstacle to walkability remained: the Borough’s Main Street also happens to be State Route (SR) 412, a popular local highway which sees 13,000 to 20,000 vehicles a day.
As the truck and traffic numbers increased on Main Street over the years, so did the community’s reports of pedestrian and vehicle close encounters. The Borough of Hellertown needed walkability improvements to protect its people and encourage more pedestrian use of the downtown for the benefit of the businesses and community, so Isett was commissioned to complete a Walkability and Smart Transportation Plan in 2011.
Over the past decade, Bryan Smith, RLA, ASLA—Head of Isett’s Landscape Architecture Department—has been actively engaged in the engineering and design to implement many of the plan’s recommendations: streetscape and civic space improvements at Borough Hall and Town Center and the Easton Road bump out street narrowing completed in 2013; completing the Borough’s section of the SRT; identifying an overlay district in the area of the trail to promote pedestrian connections; and the Water Street and Saucon Street connections to/from the SRT.
The Borough is committed to creating a walkable community and has retained its momentum. Isett’s Grants team secured over $1.2 million in PennDOT grant funding (2017) for Main Street improvements, including pedestrian-activated rapid flasher lights, decorative crosswalks, and ADA ramps at six un-signalized intersections; a bump out and bus shelter at Thomas Street; and new pedestrian countdown indicators and crosswalks at the Borough’s four traffic signals. This project was completed this year.
Isett’s Grants team also secured $633,500 in DCED and county grant funding that was used to improve two connector roads west of their intersections with Main Street. The SRT crossing and access point on Walnut Street was outfitted with a rapid flasher signal, ADA ramps, and ADA parking, and the sidewalk was improved to the nearby Grist Mill historic site and Main Street. In addition, the Water Street trail crossing rapid flasher signal was upgraded and the streetscape was improved with decorative pavers and crosswalks, as well as new sidewalk. A pedestrian connection from the new PennDOT-constructed Saucon bridge by Water Street Park was created to connect to the historic Heller Homestead across the bridge.
The project improved and encouraged the use of the sidewalk network for locals and visitors to travel safely and conveniently between the downtown, parks, public transit, and the multi-municipal SRT.