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HARB Approves of Main Street Improvement Project

Private investors and city officials hope project to rebuild streets and sidewalks at Main and W. Market streets can get under way next week.

 

A plan to rebuild the sidewalks and streets at Main and W. Market streets in Historic Downtown Bethlehem got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the Historic and Architectural Review Board on Wednesday.

“It looks really nice,” said Fred Bonsall, HARB chairman.

Meanwhile, project leaders say they are still hopeful that Phase One of a planned of Main Street will start next week and be completed in time for the opening day of Musikfest on August 3.

If not, this phase has been broken up into five smaller phases that can be completed individually, allowing for part of the project to be finished before and part to be completed after Musikfest, said Kiel Fortner, a section engineer for the city.

Previously, city officials said that the project would have to start by June 18 to for annual downtown festival of music, food and beer to begin.

Phase One includes new sidewalks, benches and garbage cans and the rehabilitation of the historic fountain near the intersection. Plans also call for a 50-by-30-foot granite star of Bethlehem at the center of the intersection.

The star will be composed of 20-by-20 inch blocks of granite cobblestone – carved where necessary – to make the star’s shape. Granite, brick and bluestone will be used to rebuild both the street and the sidewalks.

The materials will be set into a new concrete base to keep the bricks and stones from shifting over time, said Bob Kiel, vice president of Liberty Property Trust, which has taken the lead in privately funding this streetscape improvement.

Liberty has contributed $300,000 to fund the first phase and the city has obtained an additional $50,000 in state grant money, but these dollars won’t be enough to pay for the project. Kiel is trying to raise money from downtown stakeholders to cover the rest of the cost.

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