CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A mile of South Atherton Street in Downtown State College, from Curtin Road to Westerly Parkway, will undergo a series of improvement projects from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“We’ll be improving the drainage system, updating the roadway, making some pedestrian upgrades,” said Dean Ball, assistant district executive for PennDOT Engineering District 2. “The drainage system was installed many, many years ago. It’s insufficient to handle to existing stormwater.” 

The $19 million project will span three years, beginning in Spring 2022.

In order to successfully complete the upgrades, 56 trees will need to be removed. PennDOT said they collaborated with both Penn State University and State College arborists to reach this decision; however, it is a point of concern for the State College Borough Tree Commission.

“We as a people of the tree commission are very very concerned they want to take 56 trees or more,” said Lynn Herman, chair of the State College Borough Tree Commission.

One resident that spoke with WTAJ, said they need the trees for shade.

“Especially those property owners that live along Atherton Street, removal of those trees is going to have an adverse effect of those property values,” said Herman.

Herman said the Tree Commission hopes PennDOT will lend a listening ear and work to replant the trees.

“We’re looking at working with the borough on putting some trees back,” said Ball. “We’re looking into where they’re not going to cause a sight distance issue, you know, not in the way of utility, all those things. We’re working with them right now.” 

A public hearing with the State College Borough Tree Commission and PennDOT will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday January 13, online and in the State College Municipal Building.