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MontCo Grant Approved for Montgomery Avenue Sidewalks and Bike Paths
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

            In an agreement reached just over a year ago between the Upper Perkiomen School District and Upper Hanover Township, safety concerns for students traveling to and from the proposed middle school on Montgomery Avenue were cited as a major concern in the 11-page document.

            Among the stipulations in the agreement was that the school district install sidewalks on both sides of Montgomery Avenue.

            At that time, Alexis McGloin, the district superintendent, called the agreement the proper solution for the district, township and students. She said it will allow a safe pedestrian path for students walking to and from the new school.

            The settlement requires the district to complete the sidewalk project before the school opens. According to Upper Hanover Township Solicitor Joseph Bresnan, the township won't issue a use and occupancy permit for the new facility until district officials have completed the installation of the sidewalks and bike path.

            To help fund the $500,000 project, Pennsburg Borough and Upper Hanover Township officials teamed-up to apply for a MontCo 2040 Implementation Grant to assist the Upper Perkiomen School District in paying for the sidewalks and bike path.    

            Last week, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners approved a substantial $150,000 grant request towards the project. The grant will cover 30% of the estimated $500,000 project construction costs with all remaining expenses funded by the Upper Perkiomen School District.

            The 2018 MontCo 2040 grant awards totaled over $1,500,000. The county received 27 applications, totaling $3.5 million in requests, from municipalities for the 2018 cycle. Projects were evaluated in terms of impact, county and local planning consistency, project readiness, and funding attributes by a committee made up of planning commission board members and interdepartmental county staff.

            Projects were also given heightened consideration when addressing one of three focus categories for 2018:  Walk Montco and Bike Montco – Trails, Paths, Sidewalk Connections and Bike Facilities; Downtown and Community Destination Support; or Adaptation and Resiliency. 

            According to a press release issued by Upper Hanover Township, Supervisors Chairman Eugene Fried said, "We can't thank the County Commissioners enough, Dr. Arkoosh, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Gale, for their gracious consideration of our grant application.  "The Township Supervisors worked hard for the inclusion of these off-site improvements in the Middle School approval due to our concerns about student safety."

            "While the overall cost of the proposed improvements at first appeared daunting, the Township Supervisors pledged our support to cooperate with the School District in submitting applications for grant funding assistance," said Chairman Fried. "Pennsburg Borough agreed to partner with Upper Hanover Township on the Montco 2040 grant application.

            "Additionally, the Upper Perkiomen School District communities of East Greenville Borough, Hereford Township, Marlborough Township, Pennsburg Borough and Red Hill Borough all provided letters of support. Our joint efforts and region-wide cooperation paid off and the County Commissioners came through big time."

            PennDOT officially classified Montgomery Avenue as a hazardous walking route due to the absence of sidewalks along this popular path that leads directly to the existing Upper Perkiomen High School (972 students) and the adjacent Upper Perkiomen Middle School (850 students) presently under construction.

            The planned bike path and sidewalk improvements are designed to augment safety conditions for students and the general walking and driving public while improving connectivity to these two major school facilities.

            The bike path and sidewalk will consist of a four-foot wide bituminous bike path and a five-foot wide concrete sidewalk that will connect from the bike path and sidewalk to be constructed along the school district's frontage on Montgomery Avenue to the intersection of Eight Street and Montgomery Avenue (a distance of 670 linear feet) where a cross walk will be constructed.

            A four-foot wide concrete sidewalk on the northern side of Montgomery Avenue will provide a further connection from Eighth Street to Sixth Street (a distanced of 650 lf) where the sidewalk will connect to existing sidewalk.  Curbing will be installed along all portions of Montgomery Avenue that are improved with sidewalks. The overall length of these off-site improvements total 1,320 lf, or one-quarter mile.

            "The funding grant assistance from the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and the commitment of the Upper Perkiomen School District toward the implementation of this important safety improvement project are commendable and greatly appreciated by our regional communities," said Township Supervisor Chairman Eugene Fried. "The Montgomery Avenue Bike Path and Sidewalk Installation Project will benefit the entire region and is vital and necessary for student safety."





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