$25M in road construction planned for Butler County
Franklin Supervisors Chairman Herman Bauer is concerned that roadwork on Route 422 this summer will affect traffic for July's Big Butler Fair, but he's not complaining that this major artery in the county is getting a face-lift.
“We'll survive this. All these (road) projects are needed. If we want businesses to move into our communities, we need the infrastructure to support them,” Bauer said.
PennDOT is spending more than $25 million on roadwork throughout Butler County this construction season, though several major projects are carried over from the 2013 construction season.
Of the work in Butler County, about $10 million comes thanks to the state's transportation funding bill signed into law in November. That bill increases the oil company franchise tax charged to wholesalers to generate the money.
Critics note that wholesalers have openly indicated those costs will merely be passed on to consumers and lead to higher gas prices, even though the state is eliminating the 12-cent retail gas tax. The law also raised some vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.
Joseph P. Dubovi III, PennDOT District 10 executive, said his agency plans to use the money to work on more roads with the additional funding.
Crews have applied “a lot of Band-Aids over the last few years. Some roadways are in dire need of repair,” Dubovi said.
The state expects to raise about $321 million from the wholesale tax through the first six months of 2014 for road, bridge and other work, and between $2.3 billion and $2.4 billion by the fifth year of the legislation.
The Big Butler Fair in Prospect draws thousands each year, and this year's event is scheduled from June 27 through July 5, with heavy traffic expected along Route 422 in Franklin and Prospect.
“With the extra money that's coming through the new transportation law, people need to see that it's being put to good use and being put to use in our area,” Bauer said.
PennDOT maps show between 7,800 and 19,000 vehicles pass through Franklin and Prospect on Route 422 each day, according to 2012 traffic counts.
PennDOT said it will maintain two lanes of travel in the construction zone at all times during the fair to ease traffic congestion.
Cranberry will also see many benefits from the road improvement plan, including a completion of a ramp project for Route 228 and Interstate 79. Work also will begin on intersection improvements at routes 228 and 19 and Freedom Road.
Township Manager Jerry Andree said many of the projects have been in the works for up to a decade. Some improvements will tie into the Cranberry Springs project that will feature the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, including two ice rinks and sports medicine facilities.
“This validates the importance of planning and having dialogue and collaboration with PennDOT,” Andree said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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