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Stimulus Dollars For The East End

It's been more than a year since the federal stimulus plan, and now after a long process, some of that money is about to be put to use in the East End.



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That’s the sound of a large machine breaking up concrete on Harrisburg Street in the East End. Soon the new light rail will run right down the middle of the street. But that’s not the only change taking place over there.

“We’re looking at bike lanes. We’re looking at major improvements to the sidewalks. Many of the places along York and Sampson have no existing sidewalks.”

Diane Schenke is president of the Greater East End District, the group overseeing the changes. She says much of the East End is old and in need of improvements. But as in most cases, the money for those improvements isn’t there.

But with five million dollars in federal stimulus dollars, they can do a little at a time.

“The goal is to make it easy for people to get to buses and to get to the light rail when it is in place.”

The first streets to see improvements will be York and Sampson streets.

Schenke says more than 30-percent of East End residents use mass transit to get where they’re going. But the current sidewalks in some areas make it difficult to get to bus stops.

“You know we see people pushing wheelchairs, pushing baby carriages out in the street, avoiding traffic, avoiding potholes and these sidewalks will take care of that problem. And with the lighting that will be put in place and the areas, the protected bus stop areas, we’ll be taking care of our east in residents.”

East in planners also want to make it easier for visitors to come into the area. They don’t want the high traffic and problems of Washington Avenue, but still want people come their restaurants and businesses.

All of this is at least a year down the road. For now, people are greeted with numerous detours and this: (the sounds of road construction).