It's the only one in Pennsylvania, and it's in Dauphin County

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 22, 2015 3:47 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

State legislators, Dauphin County Commissioners, Middletown officials, and business leaders break ground on the streetscape project for the Dauphin County borough.

(Middletown, Dauphin County) -- Middletown is breaking ground on what some might see as a routine downtown improvement project, but it's getting funded in a way that's unique to the county; it's using the Dauphin County's infrastructure bank to pay for part of the project costing about $3 million.

It'll bring new sidewalks and streetlights to the borough's downtown, plus a plaza for events.

Dauphin County was the first, and only, in Pennsylvania to create an infrastructure bank in 2013.

It allows liquid fuels taxes to pay for local road projects.

Commissioner Jeff Haste says the setup helps keep businesses in the region and attract others.

"When we had these ideas in mind, it was so that we could improve our infrastructure, so that communities could put their money in there, and we could be a better place to live," he says.

Normally, the money goes to bridge repairs.

But most of the structures in the county are in good shape, so the fund has some flexibility.

"We wanted to have this so that when the economy turned around, we all know it will, that we in Dauphin County, not Cumberland County, not somewhere else, but we in Dauphin County would be ready to welcome those businesses, let our current businesses expand, and let's have a thriving community."

At least seven projects have been funded through long-term, low-interest loans from the bank.

Future liquid fuels tax receipts for municipalities are then used to repay the loans.

Middletown's downtown improvement project is at least the seventh initiative funded by the county's infrastructure bank.

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