Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County- Calling it "a regional catalyst for new jobs and community progress," Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/ Carbon/Monroe) helped formally dedicate the "new" Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre.
The $14 million project realigned and widened Coal Street, a major route to Downtown Wilkes-Barre, from a two lane to a five lane roadway with new lighting, sidewalks and parking for area residents and businesses.
"The regional leadership of federal and state officials along with local leadership advanced this invaluable infrastructure project when many had left it in the dust of drawing board," said Yudichak. "The hard work and strong commitment of everyone working together made this project a reality."
"The improvements forge a new gateway for motorists exiting Interstate 81 and allows easy access to businesses in Wilkes-Barre Township and Downtown Wilkes-Barre," concluded Yudichak.
Phase I of the Coal Street Realignment Project widened the road to five lanes, installed over 90 new streetlights, upgraded crosswalks and traffic signalization, and added 53 parking spaces which is more available parking than before the project began. The project spent many years in development and design before construction was completed in October 2012. Phase I was finished on time and under budget. The total project cost was nearly $14 million.
"In an era when people believe that government cannot do anything right, this road stands as a monument that here in Wilkes-Barre, we can get it right," said Mayor Leighton, "Today, we mark the success of an important first-step to build a stronger Wilkes-Barre but this is not the finish line."
The mayor highlighted the economic promise of an eventual roadway that creates an uninterrupted gateway from I-81 into the heart of the downtown near Union Street. He said that the city is actively pursuing funding for Phase II in consultation with state and federal legislators like Senator Bob Casey [D-PA].
"This project has already created jobs in the short term and will help position the city and region for economic growth and development in the long term," said Senator Casey, "I was glad to support the mayor's efforts to bring this project to fruition and will continue to work with state and local officials to help get the region's economy back on its feet."(Photo: Mark Davis)
PHOTO: Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, State Senator John Yudichak, and State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski cut the ribbon formally opening the "new" Coal Street
(Information from Mark Davis of Senator Yudichak's Office and Drew McLaughlin Administrative Coordinator for Wilkes-Barre)