Transportation projects for Western Pa. prioritized
Planners have identified 123 road, bridge and transportation improvements needed in southwestern Pennsylvania, and said a list of priority projects — including a handful in Westmoreland County — will be adopted by next summer.
The Southwest Pennsylvania Commission, or SPC, and PennDOT on Wednesday afternoon outlined proposals that could be part of the next four-year transportation improvement plan for the 10-county region.
Among the projects considered are construction of a new ramps to the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Penn and Mt. Pleasant townships, continuation of the long-discussed Laurel Valley connector and major road improvements along Route 30.
“We’re looking for input on the projects we are considering,” said Ryan Gordon, a transportation program manager with the SPC.
The agency is expected to present a list recommended for state and federal funding in May, when public hearings will be convened throughout the region.
Final approval is expected in June.
The proposals are expected to cover projects slated for funding from 2021 through 2024.
Early estimates suggest projects under consideration could cost more than $346 million, Gordon said.
The proposed Laurel Valley connector, from Norvelt to Pleasant Unity, carries a $52.2 million price tag.
Alex Graziani, manager for Penn Township, said he was pleased to see the long-talked about turnpike ramp, with its estimated $15 million price tag, make the wish list. He also advocated for a study of the Route 130 corridor from Jeannette to the Allegheny County line in Trafford.
“We need it for the safety and mobility of our residents. Route 130 is what we are dependent on,” Graziani said.
Hempfield Supervisor Doug Weimer said he wants to see a continued focus on road improvements that will allow easier traffic flow to commercial areas in the township, such as the casino being built at Westmoreland Mall.
“We always like to see more things on the list but the money’s not there,” Weimer said.
Gordon noted that federal funding for regional transportation projects is expected to decrease by $325 million for the construction period that starts in 2021.
Meanwhile, work continues on a number of large-scale improvements from previous wish lists.
Angela Saunders, a transportation planning manager for PennDOT’s District 12, said projects currently underway will continue to receive priority.
Those include a portion of the Laurel Valley connector to link the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport area in Unity, a $20 million rehabilitation of the Salina Bridge over the Kiski River; safety improvements to Route 356 in Allegheny Township and a $1 million upgrade of a section of the Loyalhanna Creek Trail.
Saunders also highlighted the $22 million upgrade to a section of Route 119 through Youngwood that will begin in April and the continuation of the $11.8 million bridge rehabilitation in West Newton over the Youghiogheny River.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .