03.02.18 Article

Borough Council Approves $2.5 Million
MTF Grant Application

March 2, 2018

The Sinking Spring Borough Council, at its March 1, 2018 meeting, approved the submission of a $2.5 Million dollar grant application request to the PA DCED Multimodal Transportation Fund program.

Sam Loth, Coordinator for the BOSS 2020 Revitalization Committee made the request explaining that there was a rare opportunity to submit an application without the need for the Borough to provide a 30% cash match for funding requested from the program.

The Borough was awarded $1.1 Million dollars in 2016 to construct the western half of the New Columbia Extension, a new Borough roadway that will run parallel to Penn Avenue on the south side in order to create a “Main Street” that would be the basis for a new downtown central business district.

Sam Loth explained that, because there is no cash match requirement in this round of funding for the program, the Borough can request funds to first, acquire Krick Avenue properties necessary to build the new roadway and second, request funding toward the construction of the eastern half of the New Columbia Extension.

If the State awards the request, the Borough will be able to realize its goal to open up over 20 acres of central business district land that cannot be accessed at this time.  The estimated cost of acquiring the remaining Krick Avenue properties is close to $3 Million dollars and the cost to build the eastern half of the new thoroughfare is $1.25 Million.  The Borough will request $2.5 Million which still leaves a $1.75 Million gap to be filled.

Nevertheless, the BOSS 2020 Revitalization Committee believes strongly that the opportunity exists now to make a huge leap forward in closing this last portion of the Crossroads Infrastructure Redevelopment Project in order to create a New Town Center.

Once the infrastructure is renewed, the BOSS Committee can market the acreage to developers.  A New Town Center for Sinking Spring can bring over $60 Million dollars in private/public redevelopment in a mixed use, multi-story combination of retail, residences, entertainment and professional space linked to a multimodal transportation hub serving all of central and western Berks County.

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02.10.18 Article

State to put up the $6 million it will cost to realign Mull Avenue and Shillington Road at Penn Avenue.

Saturday February 10, 2018 12:01 AM

PennDOT to fund major part of Sinking Spring revitalization

Written by Lindsey O’Laughlin

Sinking Spring, PA —

Sinking Spring’s downtown revitalization plan got a boost Wednesday with the announcement that PennDOT will fully fund a major traffic flow project in the borough.  Mull Avenue and Shillington Road will be realigned to form a perpendicular intersection with Penn Avenue.

Sam Loth, coordinator of the borough’s revitalization committee, said PennDOT will pay for engineering, design, property acquisition and construction of the intersection. Borough Engineer Robert Ludgate said construction won’t begin until 2022 at the earliest. Total cost is estimated at $6 million.

Currently, Mull Avenue and Shillington Road meet Penn Avenue at offset angles and in slightly different places along the road. This misalignment, along with the steep grade of Mull Avenue, causes traffic congestion in the area.

The Reading Area Transportation Study recommended that the intersection project be included in the state Transportation Improvement Program, Loth said. The state program helps county and state officials determine how to allocate available funds for transportation and traffic projects.

Fixing the intersection is part of the borough’s four-phase revitalization plan, the goal of which is to improve traffic flow, expand the tax base and rejuvenate the economy with a new central business district.

The first part of the plan, Spring Market shopping center, sits at the eastern edge of the borough and was finished in 2010.

The second part of the plan is the realignment of Cacoosing and Columbia avenues to form a perpendicular intersection with Penn Avenue. Loth said construction on this part could begin in mid-May 2018 if PennDOT awards the highway occupancy permit in time.

The borough also intends to build a new road connecting Columbia Avenue with Shillington Road, which is referred to as phase three in the plan. The Columbia Avenue extension would measure about one-third of a mile and run parallel to Route 422. The extension would form the landscape necessary for development in the proposed business district and would cost roughly $3 million to build, not including land acquisition.

The borough has secured $1.1 million from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to build the first half of the new road, and Loth said the borough will apply for more funding this year.

Borough Councilman Brian Hoffa, who is also a member of the revitalization committee, said everyone involved was excited to learn that funding had been secured for the Shillington Road/Mull Avenue realignment.  “What this is going to allow us to do is to focus on the remaining phase three, and to establish plans for us to be able to complete that,” he said.

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Contact Lindsey O’Laughlin: 610-371-5027 or lolaughlin@readingeagle.com.

07.01.16: Article

BOSS Wins $1.1 Million Grant for Phase 3 of Downtown Road Project

July 1, 2016

State to invest $1.1M in Sinking Spring revitalization project

HARRISBURG – The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) approved a $1.1 million grant for the Borough of Sinking Spring, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks).

The investment will provide for the construction of the Columbia Avenue Extension in the borough. Dubbed “Smart Growth for the 21st Century,” Sinking Spring’s Revitalization Program’s goal is to correct two intersections, while creating favorable traffic patterns and parking for a downtown business district.

“This is a critical project not just for Sinking Spring, but for Berks County and the surrounding region,” Argall said. “Updating the intersections will provide for smoother traffic flow while creating a central business district that will lead to further revitalization and economic opportunity for local residents. I’m pleased to see the community receive this highly competitive funding to assist with their overall project”

“This is an example of state government investing in local communities,” Cox said. “The residents, employers and workers in Sinking Spring stand to significantly benefit from this grant.  Sinking Spring is a wonderful community and this project will hopefully make it even better.”

The total project cost is $1.8 million.

Contact: Jon Hopcraft 717.787.2637

04.07.16: Article

April 7, 2016: PennDOT Secretary Attends
Chamber of Commerce Transportation Event

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PennDOT Secretary, Leslie Richards

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards spoke to a Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce gathering on April 7, 2016.  She discussed her four-pronged approach to the agency’s operating philosophy; 1) Prioritizing Investment, 2) Maximizing Technology, 3) Empowering the Public and 4) Innovative Partnerships.

1) Prioritized Investment PennDOT has invested in repairs to bridges since the Secretary’s appointment in 2015 which has reduced the number of outstanding deficient bridges from 20,000 to 4,000–the lowest number ever.

2) Maximizing Technology Modern computer software will replace that which was over a decade old and incompatible with other State agencies.  PennDOT is working with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to adopt private circulation technology.

3) Public Empowerment  A new website, www.projects.penndot.gov, provides the public with up-to-date data on all PennDOT projects state-wide.  The Department’s discretionary funds will be released to individual districts for local projects at the beginning of the State fiscal year instead of at year-end.

4) Innovative Partnerships PennDOT is improving services at other State Offices;  helping the State Department to institute online voter registration, assisting the Conservation & Natural Resources Department to register ATVs and other alternative vehicles, implementing the Rapid Group Replacement Program (Public/Private Partnerships-P3) to place 558 bridges on the list for repairs in 2016 using private contractors.

RATS Committee Report on the 2017-2020 TIP Plan 

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RATS Planner, Alan Piper

Alan Piper, County Transportation Planner reported on the work of the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) known locally as the Reading Area Transportation Study (RATS).  The RATS Committee oversees listings and funding for projects ranging in size from the 222 Northeast Corridor to localized walking/biking trails.

RATS FFY 2011-2035 Long Range Transportation Plan  Major Goals include 1) Reducing Congestion, 2) Increasing Access & Mobility, 3) Removing Barriers to Freight Movement, 4) Increasing Safety and 5) Strategic Compatibility with Plan Principles.

1) Reduce Congestion Alleviate Bottlenecks, minimize recurring congestion, anticipate challenges and implement timely mitigation.

2) Access & Mobility Provide intermodal connections, connect adjacent land uses, maximize Public Transit opportunities and increase connections between freight producers and haulers.

3) Ease of Freight Movement Alleviate traffic bottlenecks on freight routes, promote accessibility to rail and improve access to the regional roadway network.

4) Increase Safety Make safety improvements in high-crash corridors and implement low-cost safety improvements in all other corridors.

5) Congestion Strategy Compatibility Promote investment in existing corridors and designated economic development areas that support future growth, continue investments in enhancement projects, transit opportunities and commercial growth where transit exists.

Mr. Piper announced that an updated 4-year TIP (2017-2020) is 50% completed with project proposals totaling $343 Million. The TIP will be finalized by the RATS Committee in June 2016.

YES, The Sinking Spring Revitalization Plan, Phase 4 Intersection Project (Penn-Shillington-Mull Avenues), will be listed on the 4-Year TIP Plan for preliminary engineering to begin!

11.12.15: Video

Berks County Commissioners; Report on BOSS Project Progress

The first half of this video shows Bob Ludgate and Sam Loth updating Commissioners Leinbach, Barnhardt and Scott on the progress of BOSS 2020.

 

Click here to view the video.

 

 

01.29.13: Video

Reading Eagle Newspaper Interview

on BOSS Project Overview

A question and answer with Sinking Spring Revitalization Committee consultant Sam Loth as part of the Reading Eagle Business Weekly.