City seeks funding for downtown traffic study

City Council this week is asking PennDOT to fund a study on downtown traffic circulation, pedestrian access and parking.

“It is imperative at this time to address current concerns related to parking and the continued increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic” given new business starts downtown and continued growth of Penn State Altoona’s downtown campus, stated Mayor Matt Pacifico in a letter addressed to state Transportation Secretary Leslie Richardson.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization — which schedules transportation projects in cooperation with PennDOT for Blair County — has already asked PennDOT in Harrisburg for Supplemental Transit Studies Funding to do the work.

The proposed consultant’s study would take a critical look at the existing one-way circulation system, especially on 12th and Chestnut avenues, the possibility of traffic-calming measures on the 10th Avenue expressway, the potential for intersection improvements where the connector streets of Seventh, Eighth, 17th and 18th enter downtown and the possibility of finding additional or alternative connectors to take the pressure off the major one at 17th Street, said Patrick Miller, CEO of the Greater Altoona Economic Development Corp.

Lloyd Street is such a possible connector, if enhancements are made, he said.

The study could take account of earlier suggestions that never made it to the formal government study stage, including developer Maury Lawruk’s idea for two-way traffic again on 12th and Chestnut Avenues and a Penn State Altoona class’s recommendation for better signage and slower traffic on the 10th Avenue expressway.

One of the basic ideas is that slower traffic would help motorists take more notice of the businesses in the downtown.

The current study proposal originated with the Blair County Chamber of Commerce’s Transpor­tation Committee, Miller said.

The Chamber, GAEDC and the Altoona Blair County Development Corp. are supportive.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.