State money earmarked for junction section of Pittston

By Tony Callaio - For Sunday Dispatch
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Harrisburg, — Gov. Tom Wolf, along with PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards, announced on May 8 the approved funding for 82 transportation projects totaling $66.8 million across Pennsylvania with two of those projects earmarked for Luzerne County

Projects selected through the Surface Transportation Block Grant are to improve transportation alternatives and enhance mobility and public access in the state.

Wilkes University was awarded $1,156,616 for pedestrian safety enhancements on South Franklin and West South streets, replacing damaged sidewalks, curb replacement, new sidewalk construction and pedestrian lighting.

The City of Pittston will receive $999,897 for sidewalk, curb and drainage improvements along North Main Street, an area known to locals as the junction section of Pittston.

“Building for the future includes improving access to a variety of transportation options and these investments will promote safety and mobility for communities across Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said.

For Pittston, receiving the funding will continue to give a boost to the revitalization of the city as Phase V is currently underway on South Main Street with streetscaping, including sidewalks, curbs and lighting.

According to Michael Lombardo, mayor of the City of Pittston, the junction section of town has been labeled Phase VI, or the Junction North Project, and work could begin as early as 2019.

Projects chosen by the governor’s office are based on reviews by federal and state governments on communities that have been preforming utilizing streetscape grants in the past. “This speaks of what we’ve done and gotten so far,” Mayor Lombardo said.

“This is a huge boost,” Lombardo continued. “Streetscaping clearly demonstrates overt change and, for us, to be able to change the junction, which is just as significant as the rest of Main Street.” The mayor is expecting the Junction North Project to kick-start other improvement projects in the northern part of the city.

Prior to the mayor being re-elected in the fall of 2017, Lombardo ran on a platform to revitalize the junction.

The Junction North Project will run from Curry Street to approximately New Street. “Conservatively, that’s what we are looking at and depending on what problems we may or many not come across, the project may be stretched further,” Lombardo said.

Residents can expect the Junction North Project to offer the same improvements in curbs, sidewalks, concrete stamping and decorative lighting as the rest of Main Street.

Within the next six months, the current administration will release a comprehensive plan on for the junction. “We have some good core businesses like Lizza’s Mezzo Mezzo and the antique shop and we have to look at what else makes sense for that part of town,” Lombardo said.

The mayor is very interested in seeing an arts and antique section in the junction. He is also looking into an athletic fields complex along with a connection between walking trails.

The mayor will also look into housing in the junction.

“We are in the process of joining the Pennsylvania Downtown Center where we will be able to take advantage of surveys, networking with other towns and cities, along with many other programs and services that could help with the junction planning,” concluded Lombardo.

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By Tony Callaio

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.