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Western Pa. commission pitches $4.7 billion wish list to state

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 1:26 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Tractor Trailer passes rusted bridge support on the east bound, I-70, Speers Bridge. On Tuesday, July,2,2913.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
A bicyclist moves along the Great Allegheny Passage in Layton, with the Layton Bridge in the background. According to PennDOT District 12, the Layton Bridge, which crosses over the Youghiogheny River, will be closed to traffic between 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday next week. The closure will be in place so that crews can perform a regularly scheduled inspection on the bridge. Motorists are urged to detour using Banning Layton Road / Dawson Road, Cunningham School Road, Route 819, Front Street / Dickerson Run Road, Cemetery Road or Route 201. The bridge connects Layton to Perryopolis in Fayette County.
S.C. Spangler | Tribune-Review
Dedicated in 1839, Dunlap Creek Bridge in Brownsville is among the oldest cast-iron bridges in the country.
This 1955 aerial image of Duraloy shows the industrial hub of the valley area between Scottdale and Everson. Many of these buildings were part of the U.S. Cast Iron Pipe and Foundry that employed up to 1,500 workers in the plant's hey-day. The Pipe Mill was known for manufacturing the largest pipe in the world. Duraloy uses the former 'A' plant to manufacture hi-alloy castings and fabrications. Near the upper right corner is the Uptegraff Manufacturing Co. known for its specialized electrical transformers. In the lower left corner is the baseball field remembered fondly for the fun times held at that field. Also shown in the upper right corner on the curve of Bridge Street is the Kromer House, one of Scottdale's fine hotels at the turn of the 20th century. To learn more of Scottdale's rich history, pick up a copy of Around Scottdale and Everson at the Scottdale Library. Image courtesy of Mayor Chuck King, presented by the Scottdale Historical Society.

A wish list the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission will send to the state Transportation Commission comprises a record $4.7 billion in projects, including more than $400 million for Mon Valley work.

The 52 percent increase in spending in the Transportation Improvement Program is a result of fees raised in the state's new transportation bill, said Joe Grata, a member of the SPC board.

Work that would be completed over the next two years must receive state commission approval, which is expected late next month.

The state maintains a 12-year plan that is updated every two years.

“Finally, residents will see not only long-overdue work on roads and bridges but also substantial progress to reconstruct I-70 to modern standards,” said Grata, a Washington Township resident.

“It appears that a fair share of gas tax money will be coming home.”

Act 89, signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in November, includes an increase in the oil franchise gas tax at the wholesale level and across-the-board hikes on driver-related user fees such as driver's licenses and license plates.

“Finally people are getting to see how their money is being spent,” Grata said.

Much of the money will be used to maintain and upgrade Interstate 70.

The Transportation Improvement Program identifies more than $700 million for construction of the Southern Beltway from I-79 at the Washington-Allegheny county line to the Findlay Connector near Pittsburgh International Airport.

Local projects included on the Transportation Improvement Program – some of which have begun construction – are:

• I-70 projects in Westmoreland County – $57.9 million including the Route 51, Yukon and Route 31 (Mount Pleasant-West Newton) interchanges. Also, repairs to the Belle Vernon-Speers Bridge, $16.5 million.

• I-70 projects in Washington County – $226.5 million including the Bentleyville, Route 481, Route 136 and South Junction interchanges.

• Rostraver Township – resurfacing Route 136 from Route 201 through West Newton to Janice Street in Sewickley Township, $2.2 million; resurfacing Route 51 from Route 201 north to the Allegheny County line, $4.4 million.

• West Brownsville – reconstructing the bridge carrying Route 8042 over U.S. 40, $3.3 million.

• Speers – replacing the bridge carrying Route 2027 over I-70, $1.5 million.

• Carroll Township – improving the Route 88-Route 837 intersection, $2.1 million.

• Donora – resurfacing Route 837 from Second Street to Scott Street, $2.2 million.

• Perry Township – rehabilitating the Layton Bridge over the Youghiogheny River, $2 million.

• Washington Township – replacing the bridges over Downers Run and Lutz Run near Orr Farm, $5.5 million. Repair a slide, relocate a portion of Route 906 between Fayette City and Belle Vernon, $5 million.

• Brownsville – rehabilitating the historic Cast Iron Bridge over Dunlap Creek, $3.7 million.

• Elizabeth and West Elizabeth – repairing the Route 51 bridge over the Monongahela River, $17.1 million.

In addition, the Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority is slated to receive $2.9 million to replace five 40-foot buses and to purchase a support vehicle and $6.8 million in operating assistance.

Marc Roncone is executive director of the transit authority. He joined the SPC board earlier this year and is chairman of the transit operators' committee.

Roncone said the operating assistance level for the authority remained steady. He said capital assistance is a little higher based on the need to replace some aging vehicles.

“Based on the Act 89 being passed, it appears we're finally moving in the right direction as far as getting capital items replaced and, hopefully, we can continue to move in that direction,” Roncone said.

Despite 72 comments concerning improvements to the intersection of Route 51 and Vernon Drive in Rostraver Township – more than any other project – it failed to make the list.

“As a result of the public outcry, it will get a good look at the next TIP in two years,” Grata said. “There are wish lists out there, and you always wish you could do more.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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