LEWISTOWN - It's been a streetscape project a decade in the making which branched out in all directions from Monument Square, and now it's winding down.
The entire project cost a little more than $3 million and the final phase along West Market Street across from the Five Points intersection is just about complete.
Two separate studies were done in 2000 and 2001, and in 2004 Mifflin County Planning Director Bill Gomes was able to secure the first round of funding for improvements around Monument Square.
Sentinel photo by KIERNAN?M. SCHALK
Phase four of the Lewistown streetscape project along West Market Street is the last portion of a $3 million effort to redevelop portions of the downtown area.
Phases one and two of the project were completed in July 2008, which consisted of improvements to the four corners around the square. New lighting, trees, bricks and benches were installed.
The money for the first two phases came from a program through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation called Home Streets and Safe Routes to School.
The program was first announced by former PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler at a Mifflin County Planning Commission meeting in 2004. It was designed to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment in downtown areas and to establish safe routes for children to walk to school.
Portions of North and South Main streets were done as well as East and West Market streets during different phases of the project.
"A significant difference in downtown, hard to imagine what it looked like before," Gomes said.
Phase four of the project, which is now wrapping up, will connect with a Downtown Lewistown Inc. project at the Five Points intersection, where a fountain will eventually be placed once DLI raises the money.
Gomes said this portion of the project has taken a little longer than anticipated.
Gomes would also like to see the remaining two blocks on East Market Street redeveloped, as well as the portion of South Main from the Embassy Theatre to Ansal Apartments, which is in the former Hotel Lewistown building.
Gomes said he is working with PennDOT on design work for the remaining portion on East Market Street down to Juniata Street.
"Engineering costs are a big part of these projects," Gomes said.
As part of the overall project, 50 planters will be put in place along Market Street that will display various plants including laceleaf Japanese maples, cotoneaster, variegated dogwood, ivory jade euonymus, blue and gold junipers and rhododendron.