Mayor Pitches $3.2 Million Main Street Facelift

Initial phase would bring brick pavers and a 50-foot inlaid granite Moravian star to the intersection of Main and Market streets.


Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan announced a $3.2 million project to overhaul the sidewalks and streets on Main Street in the Downtown Historic District on Wednesday.

Phase one of the project would be improvements to the T-intersection of Main and Market streets. The sidewalks and roadway will be covered in brick pavers with granite trim, according to The Morning Call.

Adding a touch of drama, a 50-by-30-foot inlaid granite Moravian star at the center of the intersection.

After the work at Market Street is completed, the streetscape improvement project would shift north toward Broad Street. The last portion to be completed will be the southern portion of Main, which includes the and the .

The last phase would include improvements to the entrance to Main Street from the Route 378 off-ramp where a new gateway is being envisioned, according to The Express Times.

Callahan said that Main Street has not had a significant infrastructure upgrade since the mid 1970s when slate sidewalks and Victorian-era lighting was installed by then-Mayor Gordon Mowrer.

"We've dedicated probably $50,000 to $100,000 every couple of years to replacing slates and maintaining Main Street but at some point, to maintain it, you have to replace it," said Callahan in The Morning Call. "I think we're at that point now. If you want to continue to make Main Street the jewel that it is, we have to make a significant investment."

Do you agree with Mayor Callahan that Main Street, Bethlehem, is in need of an overhaul of its streets and sidewalks? Tell us in the comments section below.

The project is being seeded through a $50,000 state grant and a $300,000 contribution from developer Liberty Property Trust, which owns the mixed-use retail and office building at the northeast corner of Main and Broad streets.

The initial phase of the project is expected to cost about $600,000 and Callahan said he plans to include at least $250,000 in the city’s next capital improvement bond next year for the project. Though with $350,000 already in hand, work could conceivably begin this year.

The plans will be shown to the city's Historic Architectural Review Board as a "courtesy" next week, Callahan said.

Bethlehem Tax Payer May 03, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Concerned Bethlehem tax payer This is a total waste of our money. There is nothing wrong with the way it looks now, except for the missing bricks, (now large areas of asphalt) in the street at the interesection of Main and Market. Sidewalks of slate are just fine and give it that historic appearance. Also, restaurants in that area are doing well attracting alot of people. Why do you want to mess that up by creating a large dirty construction project that is going to keep people away and will have a negative financial impact on those businesses in an already struggling economy. Clearly, the descision makers are not thinking of the big picture. If something is already working for you, don't fix it. After all do we really need to waste money on a granite star in the middle of the interesection? Hey Mayor,....your priorities are all messed up. I'll have to agree with the other people in saying the money could be better spent.
PennState May 07, 2012 at 08:18 PM
A good idea in general but how about starting with some areas of downtown that really need some improvement like Broad St.?
Local Resident May 11, 2012 at 08:20 PM
How about putting the money where it is REALLY needed?? Like Monocacy Park where the WPA built a beautiful park system, only for Bethlehem to allow it to crumble apart. The creek walls are falling apart from the floods, not to mention the constant flooding of the historic industrial quarter, but instead of re-directing the water and fixing the creek walls, he wants to spend $3.2 mill on unnecessarily redoing downtown Main & Market streets, because as the Morning Call posted, someone wearing narrow high heels might get them caught and fall? I say Stupid is as Stupid does. Wear sensible shoes.... ... My point being .. does this mayor even know his own town?? Most of the sidewalks of the entire town are lifting up from the roots of the trees that Bethlehem planted improperly for the passage of time. I walk downtown nearly every day and have spent many hours there in various shoes and the downtown is actually the one area with the least of sidewalk unevenness and missing brick problems!!! I do not want my tax dollars being wasted in such a manner, and I regularly enjoy and patronize the downtown probably more than most. It is not needed.
JD May 23, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Main between Broad & Church needs a 50x30 granite star as much as I need a tattoo on my forehead. But it isn't about need, dahling. Down in Sandscasinostan, they can build ornamental embellishments with impunity. Obviously there are people who believe that Main Street cannot and must not look "staid" or "old" to the tourists and big-spenders. This is a valid point. But aren't we trying to teach our kids how to rise above the petty opinions of others? We can do that by promoting smart growth and allocating these funds where they are needed -- and at the same time, promoting the heck out of this sort of leadership. I'm afraid I'm becoming one of those Bethlehem residents who views change with a mix of trepidation and cynicism. But one thing is clear. The economic viability of Bethlehem is now inextricably in bed with Sheldon Adelson's empire from Las Vegas.
James August 28, 2012 at 12:21 AM
This isn't Scranton, people. Bethlehem's 500 and 600 blocks are a tourist attraction- full of shopping and places to eat. Esthetics are everything... if Jim Thorpe can come in Number Five in the nation's nicest towns (and only the village area around the courthouse/Packer Mansion is truly picturesque) than why not entice people to the Historic District at times other than Musikfest, Celticfest, or Cristkindlmarkt?


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