East End Reimagining, Downtown State College

individual independent project | 2021
for use by the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization

The University Drive and College Avenue interchange was built long before the Mounty Nittany Expressway, Interstate 99, and the Park Avenue extension connecting them to Penn State campus. It was also built before land downtown became valuable enough to prompt mixed-use buildings more than a dozen stories tall.

Today, the interchange serves to annoy people in cars and buses with multiple loops and lights and endanger people on bikes and sidewalks as they detour through highway-speed traffic, traversing multiple grade changes.

Replacing the interchange with an at-grade intersection would improve safety and walkability for people on bikes and sidewalks without negatively impacting vehicular travel times. At-grade intersections across the region function with much higher traffic counts; and many streets, including the existing interchange’s north cloverleaf, have steeper slopes than would be required on a re-graded University Drive.

Proceeds from selling and collecting taxes on the the land currently in use by the interchange could pay for construction work at the intersection and may support a road diet on College Avenue from University Drive to High Street. This would allow an eight-foot increase in sidewalk width along the stretch, which currently hosts extremely narrow but heavily trafficked five-foot sidewalks.

Increased dense, mixed-use development on the eastern end of downtown would increase housing supply and revitalize an area mainly composed of residential towers with poor streetwalls.

I hope to advance a study of the proposal on the Centre County MPO Transportation Improvement Plan to allow PennDOT implementation in the future. See more of my advocacy work on the State College Transportation Commission and elsewhere.