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Event showcases Armstrong road, bridge projects

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 12:21 a.m.

A winding part of Route 422 will be straightened and 35 bridges will be fixed in Armstrong County starting this spring with funding generated by a law adopted in November that changed the way gasoline is taxed in the state.

These projects and others in Armstrong and Indiana counties will be showcased during an open house on Thursday night at the Indiana County Technology Center, 441 Hamill Road, Indiana. Several elected officials, including state Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, one of the sponsors of the bill that lowered taxes at the pumps and shifted them to wholesalers, will be at the open house from 5 to 7 p.m.

While the program will tackle several projects on Route 422, flattening out hills and straightening several curves between Silvis Hollow and Theater roads will be among the more dramatic changes, Pyle said.

“It's a complete blind curve, where if someone is going too fast coming up the hill, they won't know to turn,” Pyle said. “We're going to take out the hilltops and increase that line of sight by making it flat and straight.”

Work will be done on Route 268 near Parker. The Citizens Bridge in Kittanning is on the list of several that will get a facelift with the transportation funds.

“Most of the bridges in the county are up for some kind of refurbishment,” Pyle said. “Our goal is to make it so we can remove any type of weight restrictions.”

The transportation funding from the bill that went into effect at the start of the year is distributed to municipalities and PennDOT based on population and number of roads. Although he did not have an exact figure, Pyle said state officials forecasted enough funding to allow for updating every bridge in Armstrong County during the next ten years.

“It's not a freebie – this is a considerable commitment we're asking from the people of Pennsylvania,” Pyle said. “But this bill dedicates 80 percent of our income to bricks and mortar, which means we're going to see a lot of roads and bridges improved statewide. We'll have money to make sure our roads, highways and bridges are safe for years to come.”

Pyle said $1.95 billion of the estimated $2.3 billion generated by the new tax will go toward construction projects, while the remainder will go to mass transit funding.

The 45 municipalities in Armstrong County received $3.4 million in transportation funding in 2013-14. Pyle expects the contribution to climb by 12 percent, to approximately $3.8 million, during 2014-15, and to reach $5.2 million by 2017.

“That increase means they won't have to patch stuff anymore – they can actually fix things,” Pyle said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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