We've been hearing about it for a while now. Trees were chopped down in preparation, and nine coal cellars were filled, with little incident.

"We had one problem where a water line was damaged, but it was taken care of right away," Deena Kershner, program manager of Our Town Foundation (OTF) said.

So where are the new sidewalks?

They're coming, according to Kershner.

"There's really no delays," said Kershner. "This is just how long it takes when you're working with Penn DOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) funding."

But after filling out mounds of paperwork, and seeing it through countless state departments, the funds for Hamburg's streetscape project have finally come through.

"We actually thought we could have started it last year," said Kershner, admitting she wishes they would have waited a little longer to cut down the trees, the stumps of which will be removed by the contractor.

Recently, Hamburg Borough Council awarded a $1,300,964 contract to Heim Construction, St. Clair, Schuylkill County, to begin the streetscape project.

The project went out in three separate bids, because if the bids came in too high all in one bid, the process would have to be started all over again.

The project will see new curbing, and four feet of decorative concrete bordered by three feet of traditional concrete on the sidewalks.

"It's going to look like a slate pathway," Kershner said.

Also, part of the project will be to add about 40 "Washington Style" street lights, which are cast iron, powder-coated decorative fixtures.

"They should last forever," Kershner said.

The base bid included the first block of S. Fourth Street, about 200 feet of N. Fourth Street (which will bring it just past the American House Hotel and Apple Tree Specialties), and one block of State Street between Third and Fourth. This phase can be done at a cost of $955,385.

Alternate bids included the corner of Fourth and State Street east to Primrose Alley, and possibly up to Fifth Street.

The final bid included additional benches and trash receptacles.

With grant money coming from PennDOT at $1,311,900, Kershner said they have enough to complete the whole thing, but without enough contingency money for her comfort level.

She said the streetscape committee will be deciding on the final project before the end of the month.

Construction, which won't begin until early February, should be complete by September of 2007.

The work will be done just half a block at a time to disturb traffic patterns as little as possible.

During construction, traffic will continue to be two-way, but there will be no parking on the part of the street where crews are working.

"We're doing whatever we can do, to do it in the least inconvenient way," Kershner explained.

Burkey & Driscoll Furniture will allow parking in their lot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the construction, except during funerals.

Kershner said she welcomes qu

estions about the project, and urges people to call the OTF office, 610-562-3106.

"I think everyone is just waiting for it to get started," Kershner said.

Contact Penny at plhummel@berksmontnews.com.

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