Mine Safety Appliances donates land for planned connecting road near Route 228

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 7:46 p.m.

Cranberry-based Mine Safety Appliances Co. could have sold about six acres of land along Route 228 to a developer for another restaurant or hotel along the rapidly growing business corridor, said Dennis Zeitler, the company's chief financial officer and senior vice president.

Instead, the company donated the land, valued at about $3.1 million, to the township last year to spur development of a road connecting the Cranberry Woods Business Park to Cranberry Springs Drive and Mars Road by running under Route 228 which, according to 2011 PennDOT estimates, carries more than 42,000 vehicles daily.

“We could have sold (the land) to a restaurant or hotel, but that would screw up township plans for improving traffic,” Zeitler said.

“We could sell for more money, but it's not the best thing for residents of the business park, the township and our employees. It's for the greater good. It will pay off in the long run.”

Township Director of Engineering Jason Kratsas said the road, which township leaders dubbed the “flyunder,” should be under construction by 2015, and include a roundabout within Cranberry Woods Business Park.

The road is in the early design phase, he added, and is expected to cost between $7 million and $9 million.

Township Manager Jerry Andree said there's been a plan for about a decade to build some type of road connecting the north and south sides of Route 228.

The plan had been to create a “flyover” or ramp above Route 228, but building a road under Route 228 instead would be “more efficient,” Andree said.

“The township has been trying to create parallel roads on both sides of Route 228, north and south traffic, so that they can intermingle without having to touch Route 228,” Kratsas said.

Township officials said workers at Westinghouse Electric Co. in Cranberry Woods who want to go to lunch in the new Cranberry Commons retail development, for example, could do so without hitting a single traffic light along Route 228, a game-changer in terms of heavy traffic flow.

Fees paid by developers who construct retail and office complexes along Route 228 would fund construction of the road.

The thruway project is one of several upgrades to Route 228, including adding new ramps to Interstate 79 on the northern side of the road that should be finished by next spring.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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