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Planning a pedestrian-friendly State College

Graphic from the Borough of State College Downtown Master Plan

Downtown State College may see some drastic changes in its landscape in the coming years with the recent adoption of a new Downtown Master Plan by the Borough Council. This plan has two phases focusing on the marketing and branding of downtown, but also focuses on creating a more pedestrian friendly environment.

The purpose of the Master Plan is to develop long-term effects that would make downtown into a center for people to come and visit. It aims to give downtown a unique identity, transforming it into a more pedestrian friendly and multi-modal district, improving the comfortability and cohesiveness, attracting more people to the area, and having the area thrive as a safe and appealing destination.

With a big university just across the street and a thriving shopping and dining scene, it is no surprise that there is a high density of foot traffic downtown. One of the most drastic changes is the second theme of the plan, the “Navigating the District” theme. It looks to alleviate some of this tension by transforming the downtown so that the management of people becomes the priority over cars.

Borough councilman Jim Rosenberger is most looking forward to a streetscape improvement that would transform the 100 block of Allen Street, including the intersection with College Avenue, into a promenade. He says that this is “the heart of the downtown, and the gateway to the campus from downtown.” This project would revamp the current Allen Street into an all brick street with the sidewalks at street level. Rosenberger says that “these improvements will greatly enhance the visual beauty of this area with the use of brick pavers and improved sidewalk for pedestrians.”