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Route 228 widening is on Pa. funding list

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
.Motorists travel along Route 228 in Seven Fields. PennDOT says work to widen the often-congested road likely will move forward due to the new transportation funding plan that was signed into law in November.
Motorists travel along Route 228 in Adams. PennDOT says work to widen the often-congested road likely will move forward due to the new transportation funding plan that was signed into law in November.

PennDOT has not yet determined how much money Butler County will receive for road work from the state's new transportation funding bill, officials said last week.

The state transportation agency has identified dozens of projects it hopes to complete with money generated by the measure, including $74 million in improvements to a 4.5-mile stretch of Route 228 between Mars-Valencia Road in Adams to Franklin Road in Cranberry that would widen the road from two to four or five lanes.

“There is a lot of rush hour traffic here,” said Seven Fields resident Danielle Nowicki, 29. “I don't think the infrastructure of the area supports the number of businesses and people here.”

The transportation bill would increase the oil company franchise tax charged to wholesalers to generate the transportation money. Critics maintain that those costs will be passed onto consumers and lead to higher gas prices, even though the state is eliminating the 12-cent retail gas tax. The law raised some vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.

The state expects to raise about $321 million between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014, for road, bridge and other work, and, by year five, expects to raise between $2.3 billion and $2.4 billion.

The state would steer $1.3 billion of that money toward road work.

There's no timetable for when the projects would start, and the list could change.

PennDOT spokeswoman Deborah Casadei said the Route 228 work would be split into phases, and is among 60 projects identified for Butler County.

“These projects will be possible because of the funding,” Casadei said.

PennDOT said it expects to rebuild thousands of bridges and more than 10,000 miles of road across Pennsylvania, employing more than 62,000 workers.

In Butler County, the project list identifies more than $50 million in rehabilitation work to Interstate 79 from Route 488 in Lancaster and Muddy Creek to the Allegheny County line, more than 37 miles.

Ten bridges are slated for replacement, nine of them are structurally deficient, meaning that they are deteriorating, but not unsafe, according to PennDOT.

Cranberry chief strategy officer John Trant said the township was pleased to see improvements to Freedom Road on the list, which he said have been a “top priority for the township for some time.” The list shows resurfacing of Freedom Road from Route 19 to the Beaver County line, about 2.5 miles, would cost $2.4 million.

Another project, to widen a section of Freedom Road near Route 19 and reconstruct the bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike is listed at $18.2 million, Casadei said.

“There's a lot of support and a lot of need to connect the Beaver Valley with the Cranberry area in a way that allows for greater traffic flow,” Trant said.

He added, “We're going to continue to advocate for improvements along that (Freedom Road) corridor and the Route 228 corridor because it's helping to create jobs.”

For a list of Butler County road projects go to triblive.com.

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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