Pa. officials updated on transportation projects

November 30, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? State Sen. Terry Punt updated local officials last week on transportation projects, two of which ? replacing the Pa. 997 bridge over Interstate 81 and a traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Sollenberger Road ? are to get under way this year.

"Funding for this project was approved 12 years ago," Punt, R-Franklin, told members of the Greater Chambersburg 21st Century Partnership Transportation Committee Wednesday, referring to the Pa. 997 bridge at Scotland, Pa.

During those years, Punt said problems in acquiring rights of way have resulted in the bridge being redesigned to five lanes.

"It's been a project on the books for a long time," Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Greg Penny said Friday.

The project, which includes roadwork on either side of the bridge, is budgeted for $9.6 million, but PennDOT plans to bid the bridge separately and begin construction in September, he said.


The bridge itself will cost about $7 million, Penny said. Replacing the two-lane bridge at Exit 20 near Chambersburg Mall will take about a year, he said.

"It will not be a bridge closure and detour," Penny said. One lane of the existing bridge will be demolished while one-way traffic will alternate on the other half controlled by traffic signals at either end. Traffic will be rerouted onto the new bridge once half of its width is completed across the interstate, he said.

Greene Township Supervisor Charles D. Jamison said at the meeting that there is a moratorium on the Chambersburg Mall expanding until the bridge project is completed.

Punt said the intersection of U.S. 30 and Sollenberger Road will get a traffic signal this year, with bids going out in March. The intersection in Hamilton Township just west of Chambersburg is at a point where U.S. 30 splits into Lincoln Way West and Loudon Street as it enters the borough.

Penny said Friday the $500,000 project should be completed by the fall.

Punt told the committee $500,000 has been made available through U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster for a point of access study for another Interstate 81 exit south of Chambersburg, with Hamilton Township designated as the lead municipality. The study to determine where the exit is built will take about 18 months, he said.

"At breakneck speed, we're talking five to seven years," Punt said of building an interchange. That would be about a decade sooner than the time it took to fund and build Exit 17, originally designated Exit 7, north of Chambersburg.

"Conceptually, it would be an industrial interchange," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. The exit would serve the growing number of warehouses and distribution centers in that area, and take truck traffic off Orchard Drive and Wayne Avenue, County Commissioner Bob Thomas said.

The proposal for a point-of-access study still has to be reviewed and approved by PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, Penny said.

A feasibility study on widening Interstate 81 from four to six lanes has been completed, Punt said, although the actual work likely will be years into the future.

Widening the highway along two sections ? from the Maryland state line to Exit 57 and from Exit 70 to Exit 89, will cost $1.5 billion, Penny said. No projects are scheduled at this time, he said.

"The challenge is how do you break it up into bite-size pieces," Penny said of widening the congested highway.

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