Samuelson welcomes $900,000 for Bethlehem street improvements

BETHLEHEM, April 2 – State Rep. Steve Samuelson said Bethlehem has been awarded $900,000 for streetscape improvements in the city.

At a city news conference this morning, Samuelson, Bethlehem Mayor J. Williams Reynolds and ArtsQuest CEO Kassie Hilgert announced the funding, which will be used for streetscape improvements along Third and South New streets.

“I am a strong advocate for bringing state dollars back to my district and I was happy to work with Bethlehem officials in securing this competitive grant,” said Samuelson, D-Northampton. “I appreciate Sen. Lisa Boscola for standing behind this project as well and I thank the Commonwealth Financing Authority for approving the funding.”

Boscola said: “The Multimodal Transportation Fund program was created by the commonwealth to invest in projects that will not only improve the smooth flow of traffic for all modes of transportation, including cyclists and pedestrians, but also in projects making a positive community and economic development impact. Partnering with the city of Bethlehem and ArtsQuest, this state funding will have a tremendous impact on improving the Third Street corridor and increase the community and economic development benefits from ArtsQuest’s Community Cultural Center project. I was proud to work alongside my colleagues in the House, Reps. Steve Samuelson and Jeanne McNeill, to make this funding a reality.”

Reynolds explained that the streetscape project this grant will fund dovetails with many of the other projects going on in Bethlehem, from the Broad Street Corridor to projects in west Bethlehem, center city and on East Broad Street.

“We’re really about trying to change the culture, that culture that this is not a city built for cars, it’s built for people. It’s built for bikes and it’s built for people wanting to walk around. It’s really that vibe we talk about.”

He also thanked everyone for their involvement in helping to bring the city’s projects to fruition, from federal and state leaders to institutions like ArtsQuest and city staff.

“A lot of people complain about their officials going to Harrisburg or going to Washington and not doing the job, but Rep. Samuelson, Sen. Boscola, they are here. They listen. They talk to people and then they go and they deliver for their district. I cannot say thank you enough,” Reynolds said.

Hilgert spoke about how the multimodal grant funding will enhance pedestrian traffic around south Bethlehem and ArtsQuest’s new Cultural Center.

"Making sure that all individuals can safely enter and exit the new Cultural Center is an important factor and having safer access will help to draw even more people to our new facility dedicated to the arts and culture,” Hilgert said. “Access to the arts for all is a team effort, especially when it comes to roadways, sidewalks and other infrastructure."

Samuelson said the grant was provided by the CFA’s Multimodal Transportation Fund, whose purpose is to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to residents across Pennsylvania. Funds may be used for the development, rehabilitation and enhancement of transportation assets to existing communities, streetscape, lighting, sidewalk enhancement, pedestrian safety, connectivity of transportation assets and transit-oriented development.

The CFA was established in 2004 as an independent agency of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to administer the state’s economic stimulus packages.