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State seeks $2.2B for highway, transit projects

| Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

State officials want Pennsylvania's share of a federal economic stimulus package to fund more than $2.2 billion in highway and transit projects, including $117.8 million in cost overruns on Port Authority's North Shore T extension.

PennDOT on Friday released a priority list containing $1.5 billion for roads and bridges and $748 million for mass transit that it hopes will be paid for through legislation being crafted by Congress and President-elect Barack Obama.

"We would not have enough money in our capital budget over the next three years to cover $117.8 million," said authority spokeswoman Judi McNeil. "The economic stimulus package is the only way."

Port Authority disclosed the 27 percent jump in the cost of its controversial North Shore Connector project, a day after workers finished digging a second transit tunnel that eventually will extend the T from Downtown to two North Shore stations.

The project's $435 million price tag would increase to $552.8 million.

"The cost increases across the county have been about 24 percent and we're in line with that," McNeil said. "The North Shore Connector cost estimate was done about four years ago. We did not foresee the construction cost escalations."

The $1.5 billion request is a rough estimate based on the $32 billion Obama wants to spend on roads and bridges nationwide as part of an $825 billion stimulus plan.

"If it's similar to the way other highway and bridge money is distributed to Pennsylvania, it would be about 4.3 percent of the total," said PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler.

PennDOT would use the stimulus money for several high-profile highway and bridge projects across Western Pennsylvania, including:

• Allegheny County: $59.4 million for reconstructing Route 28 between Millvale and the heart of the North Side

• Butler County: $12.4 million to replace the McConnells Mills Bridge on Route 19

• Fayette County: $5.5 million to improve Route 119 between Penn State's campus and Pechin Road

• Washington County: $25 million to resurface I-70 between the Kammer and Speers exits

• Westmoreland County: $4.3 million to resurface Route 30 near Theater Street in Latrobe

Additional Information:

PennDOT wishes

Western Pennsylvania counties would share in the $1.5 billion PennDOT hopes to spend on roads and bridges as part of a federal economic stimulus package.

• Allegheny County: $146.3 million

• Armstrong County: $2.2 million

• Beaver County: $30.1 million

• Butler County: $31.4 million

• Fayette County: $14.6 million

• Indiana County: $9 million

• Washington County: $56.3 million

• Westmoreland County: $30.2 million

Source: PennDOT

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