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Trick-or-treat traffic study

Witches, superheroes and dinosaurs haunted a street in Lackawanna County on Halloween.

While picking up candy and other goodies from local businesses, they also walked across temporary crosswalks on the stretch of road in West Scranton.

"This section of Main Avenue ... is actually one of the most dangerous sections of streets, not only in the city of Scranton, but in the county, in the state as a whole," said Todd Pousley, community development manager for NeighborWorks Northeast PA.

The nonprofit, which helps revitalize neighborhoods, is working on a West Scranton project. For the past couple years, they’ve participated in Shamrock Construction’s Trick-or-Trick event. Businesses on Main Avenue in the city's west side between Lackawanna Avenue and Luzerne Street hand out candy. This year, NeighborWorks implemented the pedestrian safety improvements to make the event easier and safer for families.

Temporary rollout crosswalks were placed across streets that intersect Main Avenue. The plastic mats were painted with white strips. Pousley said they put them in areas where crosswalks were never installed or need to be repainted.

The mats were rolled up at the end of Halloween, but the neon green pedestrian crossing signs are there to stay, for now.

"We hope that ... we can raise some awareness about the importance of having crosswalks and signs yielding to pedestrians and make some of these things permanent as well," he said.

Leigh Passariello brought her two children to the event on Halloween. She yielded at the neon green sign when driving down Main Avenue to get to the Halloween event.

"They're very helpful," said Passariello, who grew up in West Scranton "People fly up and down Main Avenue like crazy, so I think hopefully it'll help them slow down a little bit."

Groups across the city and region are working on increasing safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The state is assessing roads across the Commonwealth, said Pousley. They’re identifying areas with high numbers of traffic accidents with pedestrians and fatalities and will provide resources to make those roads safer.

NeighborWorks is also collaborating with the Safe Routes Partnership to help make it safer for West Scranton residents to get to the three parks along Main Avenue.

Valley in Motion, who also partnered with NeighborWorks on the Halloween event, is working to identify barriers that limit people from feeling connected to parks, which includes hurdles residents face to get to parks.

Pousley said he wears a second hat. He's also chair of Scranton's Planning Commission.

"The planning commission is very interested in ways that we can make permanent pedestrian safety improvements all across the city," he said.

Scranton's downtown connectivity plan is also working to make the city more walkable, pedestrian friendly and bike friendly.

"So we're trying to kind of take some of those concepts of things that would make it safe for people to walk downtown, and also bring them into some of our neighborhoods," said Pousley.

The pedestrian safety improvements are also about equity. For some people, it's a luxury to take a walk to the store or to a park, he said. For others, it's not.

"There's actually 15% of families, households in the city of Scranton, who don't own a single vehicle ... who have no other means of transportation, other than walking, biking, taking public transportation," said Pousley. "There's an opportunity to use tonight to kind of raise awareness about the importance of it. And then we can work on finding some ways that we can address this permanently all across the city."

For more details, visit https://www.nwnepa.org/.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.
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