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Traffic up, money down for Pa. roads

January 19, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will have about $450 million less than anticipated in federal funding to spend on road projects in 2006, which will have state and local officials taking a closer look at what projects take priority.

Approximately $360 million the state anticipated for roads has been diverted to assisting transit authorities in the state, particularly Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, said Terry L. Adams, a planning and program manager for the department's District 8-0.

Adams told the Franklin County Council of Governments Wednesday that about $94 million more anticipated from the federal government has been diverted, presumably to help pay for rebuilding roads and bridges damaged by last year's hurricanes in Gulf Coast states.

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While funding is less than anticipated, Adams said traffic continues to grow, particularly along Interstate 81 where, in 20 years, truck traffic alone is expected to be equal to the total traffic on the interstate today.

"Freight traffic is going to continue to increase and we're going to have to manage it," Adams said.

A study to widen I-81 from four to six lanes has been done, but Adams estimated the cost of doing that between the Maryland state line and Lebanon County at $1.2 billion.

Citing a traffic study for Western Maryland, County Commissioner Bob Thomas said the number of vehicles on that section of I-81 is projected to increase from 44,600 per day in 2000 to 80,500 per day by 2030, an 80 percent increase.

With limited resources, Adams said municipal and state officials need to concentrate on road projects that produce the most benefit with the least cost and disruption.

Adams updated municipal officials on several local projects:

- The reconfiguration of the square in Waynesboro, Pa., and replacement of traffic signals is expected to be ready for bids in January 2007.

- Correcting bank erosion problems along Pa. 16 east of Waynesboro where truck climbing lanes were built will be done this spring.

- Work on traffic signals in Mercersburg, Pa., is scheduled for completion this spring.

- Replacing the blinking traffic signal with a regular traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Pa. 75 in Fort Loudon, Pa., is scheduled for 2008, but Adams said the project likely will be moved ahead.

- Bids will go out this spring for a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Sollenberger Road west of Chambersburg.

- Widening of the Pa. 997 bridge over I-81 in Scotland, Pa., could begin in 2007. Adams said the schedule on the $10 million project depends on right-of-way acquisitions for intersection improvements.

Adams said a number of I-81 bridges and overpasses in the northern part of the county are scheduled to be improved, most likely in 2008-09, with the interstate bridge decks being capable of handling three lanes of traffic in each direction in anticipation of the highway being widened at some point in the future.

A feasibility study on a connector road between U.S. 30 and U.S. 11 southwest of Chambersburg is in progress, Adams said. Former U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster earmarked $1 million for the project several years ago, he said.

Hamilton Township Supervisor Mike Kessinger said the connector road is a joint project with Guilford Township and Chambersburg. When it goes forward, Kessinger said it likely will focus on improving and realigning existing roads to provide better access into the Chambersburg area.

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