City eyes 12th Ave. traffic pattern

Officials envision increased flow revitalizing downtown

City officials hope more traffic on 12th Avenue will bring more restaurants, businesses and even residential apartments along that corridor in the heart of downtown Altoona.

Mayor Matt Pacifico said he’d like to see a two-way 12th Avenue with increased traffic flow achieved by narrowing the 10th Avenue expressway that many people use to bypass downtown.

Pacifico envisions a two-way 12th Avenue with features for safe walking and biking, but he is not in a rush.

“We are looking at a few years to start on improvements,” he said.

On Thursday, project engineers asked the public for ideas and observations — “Where do people walk most? Where do they bike? And where are the most troubling intersections?” said Dawn Schilling, McCormick Taylor project manager. They also sought input on potential drawbacks to narrowing 10th Avenue.

The traffic improvements were drawn from a list of projects on City Council’s Downtown Investment Plan from 2014.

Funding is secured from Penn­DOT, and engineering firm McCormick Taylor is leading the design phase.

A steady stream of curious people came through the Trolleyworks on Fifth Avenue on Thursday where the meeting regarding traffic improvements was held. They learned about the project from McCormick Taylor officials and offered suggestions about how to improve walking, biking and traffic on 12th Avenue.

“It’s nice to see positive things happen in downtown Altoona,” Mike Mignogna said.

Schilling said the public comments collected Thursday will help engineers develop a more detailed feasibility study that could be presented in the spring.

McCormick Taylor measured traffic on 10th and 12th avenues. During peak hours, traffic on 10th Avenue is well above 1,000 vehicles, which could provide a healthy supply to 12th Avenue after modifications are made.

Traffic on 12th Avenue now peaks at just over 700 vehicles per hour, which is well below what it is able to handle, Schilling said. If 12th Avenue traffic could be increased to 1,200 vehicles per hour, it could stimulate business and residential development, she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.