Transportation
8:16 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

Local Leaders Pitch Road Projects to Transportation Panel

A panel of Pennsylvania legislators, private citizens, and the state's Transportation Secretary heard arguments for funding local infrastructure projects on Thursday.

Leaders from southwestern Pennsylvania counties and municipalities submitted their ideas for the Department of Transportation's 12-Year Plan, or TYP. Updated every two years, the TYP maps out which road and bridge projects will be a priority for the state agency.

Plum Borough Council Vice President Keith Nowalk said PennDOT should consider widening Route 286 between its west end at Route 22 and Route 380. Nowalk said that would improve economic development, improve safety, and relieve congestion on 286.

Greene County Commissioner Pam Snyder appealed the panel for new bridge structures on Route 19 in Morrisville. She said the current structures pose safety risks and delays, which is of special concern because the county's only hospital stands near the bridge. Snyder said that project would cost about $21 million.

While the influx of the Marcellus Shale industry has improved her county's economy, Greene County Executive Director of Economic Development Robbie Matesic said the heavy equipment is damaging roads and bridges more quickly than the rate at which they're being repaired. She said she wants the panel to consider funding $4 million worth of bridge repairs across the county.

Matthew Smith, principal of the civil engineering firm Red Swing Group, said he thinks the state should focus on connecting the state's 2nd-most and 3rd-most vital economic areas, Downtown and Oakland, with a rapid bus transit system.

Several local leaders asked the panel to fund the completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway, a Turnpike roadway that would connect Pittsburgh's eastern suburbs to West Virginia. A few also urged the widening of Route 228 in Cranberry.

Thursday's hearing was one of five listening sessions for the updated 12-Year Plan. Panel members will debate which products to fund over this autumn.