The 731-space Polk Street Garage music to Musikfest attendees' ears
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — As completion of the Polk Street Garage neared, Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds was looking for assurances.
“I talked with Steve and he kept telling me, ‘It’s gonna get done by Musikfest,'” Reynolds said Tuesday of the 13-month project.
“It’s gonna get done. It’s gonna get done.”
- The seven-level, 731-space Polk Street Garage opened Tuesday in South Bethlehem
- The facility offers Musikfest attendees additional parking
- A ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by city officials and community leaders
And just as Steve Fernstrom, executive director of Bethlehem Parking Authority assured Reynolds, it got done: Just two days before the start of Musikfest, which may draw as many as a million visitors.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday morning for the seven-level, 731-space, state-of-the-art facility. Attendees included city officials, community leaders and state Sen. Lisa Boscola.
Officials said the parking garage will greatly benefit those attending the 10-day, annual music festival in South Bethlehem that begins with a preview day Thursday.
“This garage adds yet another accessible option for Musikfest-goers. The main concern by some was that it wouldn’t be done by Musikfest. But we were lucky with the weather that there were no delays.”Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Director Steve Fernstrom
“This garage adds yet another accessible option for Musikfest-goers,” Fernstrom said. “The main concern by some was that it wouldn’t be done by Musikfest. But we were lucky with the weather that there were no delays.”
More than Musikfest
There are two exits from the parking garage — at Polk Street and Fillmore Street, both very narrow roadways.
If there is a concern regarding the parking garage and Musikfest, it centers on the time it may take the garage to empty each night as well as the potential for traffic jams.
“I don’t expect any big delays getting out."Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Director Steve Fernstrom
“I don’t expect any big delays getting out,” Fernstrom said.
Reynolds added: “We have two exits. There’ll be some waiting. But remember, Musikfest is only 10 days. The garage is going to be used mostly for things not like Musikfest.
"Getting it open in time for Musikfest was always the goal. But mostly, this project is going to improve the future of South Bethlehem. It will also help Northampton County Community College, which is next door.”
The college’s Fowler Center is connected to the sixth level of the garage by a pedestrian bridge across Fillmore Street.
The bridge was funded by $500,000 from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, or RCAP. The college has signed 300 leases in the garage.
'Almost like cramming for an exam'
Built by Boyle Construction of Allentown, the Polk Street Garage features real-time occupancy monitoring, contactless payment options, energy-efficient lighting, eight EV charging stations and bicycle parking.
The first 30 minutes of parking in the garage are free. Additionally, fees are $1 per hour, with a maximum $10 per 24 hours.
Part of the $18.5 million project was funded by $2.5 million from RCAP. The funding was secured by state Sen. Boscola, former state Sen. Pat Browne and state Rep. Steve Samuelson.
“Willie promised me the garage would be open in time for Musikfest,” Boscola said, referencing a nickname for the Bethlehem mayor.
“We had to get it open by Musikfest. And we did. But it was almost like cramming for an exam.”