Update given on Pa. road projects

October 16, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Bradley Mallory said Thursday that three major road construction projects in Chambersburg totaling $20 million - the widening of Wayne Avenue and U.S. 30 and the building of Exit 7 off of Interstate 81 - are expected to be completed by the year 2001.

Mallory met with state and local officials in Chambersburg Thursday afternoon and toured the proposed construction area in a van starting at Howard Johnson's lodge on I-81.

"I was a little surprised that traffic congestion was developing as early as it did," Mallory said after the tour, which started at about 2 p.m. "This is significant traffic, especially compared to a few years ago."


The first project the state Department of Transportation has planned for the area is to turn Wayne Avenue into a five-lane thoroughfare.

The project is on schedule and expected to go out to bid in December, with construction likely to start in early spring 1998, Mallory said.

The widening of what is now a two-lane road will start just south of I-81 and extend to Coldbrook Avenue. The Wayne Avenue project should be completed by fall 1998, he said.

The Wayne Avenue corridor, which sits between U.S. 30 and I-81, and runs into Pa. 11, serves several large businesses like Fort James Corp., Kmart and Giant shopping plazas, a soon-to-be-opened Weis supermarket and Arby's restaurant, among several others.

Improvements to U.S. 30 east of Chambersburg, also labeled a five-lane project, should go out to bid by fall 1999, with construction starting in 2000. Construction on U.S. 30 may take more than a year, Mallory said.

The proposed $9.9 million project will widen the road from two lanes to five in a 2.9-mile stretch extending from the intersection of Walker Road in Chambersburg Borough to Old U.S. 30 in Guilford Township.

Mallory said the projects are no longer "speculative" because funding is in place and plans are on track.

Construction of Exit 7 off of I-81 at Walker Road, which transportation officials said will relieve traffic congestion on U.S. 30, is tentatively set to go out to bid by April 1999, with work also starting that spring and finishing by May 2000, Mallory said.

The Exit 7 project, estimated at $8.2 million, is a "go-ahead" subject to approval from state environmental and historical agencies, he said.

"We're committed to finding a solution there ... to find the best way to get from A to B," Mallory said.

The proposed exit in Greene Township has been the source of controversy for more than a decade, especially with residents who live nearby.

The latest attempt to block the project is information that claims the northbound entrance ramp of the proposed exit would run through a historical district.

Developers have already built a road - Norland Avenue extended - through the Gabler farm to the proposed exit. The 200-acre farm, the last one in the borough, adjoins the proposed exit and is zoned for business and commercial use.

Funding for the three local projects was made available this summer when the state Transportation Commission agreed to spend an additional $750 million on road projects throughout the state over the next four years, adding and advancing projects that had been on a waiting list or weren't being considered at all.

The Commission, made up of a 15-member board of private citizens and lawmakers, added more than 60 major road projects worth $2 billion to a 12-year plan.

Of the $2 billion, $465 million will be used for major reconstruction, $63 million for improvements to highways, $118 million for interstate and expressway renovations, and another $69 million held in reserve for projects to be identified.

The extra money comes from the additional revenues generated by the 3.5-cent-per-gallon gas price increase and 50 percent hike in vehicle registration fees approved by the state legislature and Gov. Tom Ridge, effective May 1.

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