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Shuster announces federal funding for I-81 exit

July 27, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster visited Franklin County on Monday to announce $3.4 million in federal funding to improve exit 3 of Interstate 81.

The money has been targeted for improved highway access and ease of merging, according to a news release.

The announcement comes as Atapco Properties Inc. and Chesapeake Real Estate Group, both of the Baltimore area, are working to develop a business park on more than 200 acres around the exit. Probable tenant Norfolk Southern is looking to build a major rail-truck facility there.

Shuster, R-Pa., said the Antrim Commons Business Park is expected to generate as many as 2,000 new jobs, and $14 million in state and local tax revenue.

"The exit 3 development project will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy," said state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York.

"The improvements at exit 3 are crucial, not just for economic development in Antrim Township. They're crucial for this whole region," said Bill Gour, director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

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Shuster and Alloway worked diligently to secure the funding, which is specifically set aside for the project, Gour said. Roadway work could start next year, he said.

"All of this is going to be huge," Gour said. "It's going to be mind-boggling,"

L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., called exit 3 "arguably the premier site in the commonwealth for industrial and commercial development over the next decade."

Gour predicted that development south of Greencastle would help the downtown, not hurt it.

"Our downtown is unique because of what's offered. ... You're not going to see gift shops popping up on the outskirts of the Norfolk Southern intermodal," he said.

Also, the additional jobs could send additional shoppers through the downtown.

"It means more local people will have more money to spend," Gour said.

Another $1.8 million in grants have been targeted to expand water-treatment facilities and improve the water system in Antrim Township. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed that $45 million be given to Norfolk Southern for rail line upgrades.

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