Westmoreland tries again for $25 million Laurel Valley connector funding
Westmoreland County officials said Monday they will make another attempt to secure a $25 million federal grant to pay for part of the long-planned Laurel Valley connector.
The project at one time called for construction of a new highway linking New Stanton and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport site in Unity. It now calls for upgrades to existing roads.
The proposed first phase would improve roads from Mt. Pleasant Borough to Norvelt, said county Planning Director Jason Rigone. Phase two would upgrade roads from Norvelt to Route 130 in Unity, and the proposed third phase calls for improvements to a 2.5-mile stretch from Route 130 to Route 981 near the airport.
Rigone said the 4.5-mile first phase of the project is estimated to cost about $66 million. The county has secured promises for $33 million from state funding sources, he said.
Commissioners approved the grant application as well as contracts with the Harrisburg-based Triad Strategies to lobby the federal government for the funding needed to begin the project. Triad will be paid $5,000 a month through the end of December. The county also hired the civil engineering firm McCormick Taylor for $10,762 to prepare the grant application and provide other technical and support services.
The county failed in its bid last year to win federal grant funding for the project.
“We’re going to try again because we believe the project has merit,” said Commissioner Ted Kopas.
County officials for years viewed the project as an essential piece of an economic development strategy. The upgraded roads would make travel easier from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to industrial centers and the airport.
“This is the No. 1 priority the county has. We want to get this done,” said Commissioner Charles Anderson.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .