Carbon County officials say they are trying to make the area safer for pedestrians visiting Jim Thorpe.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board said that two projects they are doing this spring will help make the area around the Old Mauch Chunk train station and the entrance to the county parking lot safer for residents and visitors who visit the county.
The projects that were awarded include the construction of an ADA curb ramp and reconstruction of a pedestrian access area to the county parking lot and the replacement of sidewalks and resurfacing a parking lot near the train station. Eastern Industries Inc. of Center Valley was awarded the ramp and crosswalk project contract after it submitted the apparent low bid of $29,000; while Muschlitz Excavating Inc. of Bath was awarded the sidewalk replacement and parking lot resurfacing project contract after it submitted the apparent low bid of $114,114.14.
Randall Smith, county administrator, said both the base and alternate options for the sidewalk contract will be completed around the train station.
Commissioner William O'Gurek added that in addition to replacing sidewalk, the county will also install a wrought iron fence, starting in front of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway ticket booth and ending near the Josiah White Park.
"The commissioners want to make pedestrian traffic safer in that area. The fence will go from the ticket booth around to the Josiah White Park so pedestrians won't be able to come out of the parking lot and cross at the S-curve intersection where typically it is done," O'Gurek said. "We want to discourage that. People coming out of the parking lot over the by the bank will now be directed over to the park and will have to go through the park and cross at the designated walkways."
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein also noted that one pedestrian was struck by a vehicle's mirror at that curve as he waited to cross.
"My other concern," Nothstein said, "was that so many people come into the town with kids. It doesn't take much for a 2-year-old to get away from a parent. It's not negligence but they just take off in a hurry."
He added that the fence will hopefully help reduce the risk of children running into the street.
O'Gurek pointed out that in addition to fixing the sidewalks and putting in a fence, the county is trying to make sure no pedestrians get struck by a vehicle as they enter or exit the lot. A crosswalk will be installed in the hopes of alleviating the issues the county has been having with traffic and pedestrians using the same entrance.
Smith also stressed that people who come to Jim Thorpe will have to try and be cooperative with these changes because they are for the people's safety.
Over the last three years, the county has spent more than $250,000 on improving conditions for area motorists and pedestrians who come into Jim Thorpe.
In addition to the two current projects, O'Gurek noted that in 2009, the county replaced the entrance to the county-owned parking lot with a concrete slab railroad crossing.