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PennDOT plans upgrades to Fayette County highways, bridges

| Saturday, July 12, 2014, 1:06 a.m.

The increase in state transportation funds is allowing PennDOT to plan upgrades to highways and bridges and is providing funds for public transit in Fayette County.

Projects that have started include resurfacing on Route 119 from Route 43 in Springhill Township to the West Virginia line, along with work on various bridges.

The funds will allow PennDOT to continue work on intersections along Route 40, including the intersection with Route 381 in Wharton and a realignment of the intersection with New Salem Road in South Union.

Other projects started or slated for planning include the preservation of the Cast Iron Bridge in Brownsville, the replacement of Layton Bridge, and a project to replace the McClure Road and Kingview Road intersections with Route 119 near the Westmoreland County line with a single interchange.

The Transportation Improvement Projects draft for Fayette County will involve more than $8.3 million in funds for public transit and more than $1.85 billion in federal and state funding, along with funds from other sources, for projects for the 2015 through 2018 fiscal years.

During a public meeting this week, Matt Pavlosky, a transportation planner with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, and Joseph Szczur, PennDOT District 12 executive, emphasized most of the planned improvements have come about because of funding provided by Act 89 of 2013, which raised wholesale gasoline taxes.

That may be offset by a lack of federal transportation funding because, according to Angela Saunders, planning and program manager for District 12, the federal Highway Trust Fund could run out of money as early as the end of this month.

District 12 is working on reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges, according to Rachel Duda, assistant district executive of design, and Szczur.

Few people, other than transportation planners, attended the public meeting held this week by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission in the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce offices in Uniontown. Pavlosky would like that to change.

He said officials — along with public transportation providers such as Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation, which provides bus transportation — need public input to develop plans.

July 18 will be the last day the public can comment on the four-year plan.

Pavlosky said those interested in giving input can go to the commission website at www.spcregion.org or email comments@spcregion.org.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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