Southwestern Pa. Commission grants help fund 16 transit projects worth $110 million

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has awarded nearly $9 million in grants that will serve as the final piece of funding for 16 transportation projects worth more than $110 million across the 10-county region.

Some of the money is for planning or feasibility studies, but the bulk of it will allow projects to begin construction, the commission said.

The grants were awarded in two categories: $5.8 million for 10 projects under the Livability through Smart Transportation Program, and $3.186 million for six projects through the Transportation Alternatives Program. The Livability program is designed to link transportation projects with other development work while the Alternatives program encourages bike and pedestrian lanes, trail expansion, and access to public transit.

The most expensive project is 12 miles of improvements to Route 981 in Westmoreland County at a cost of $51 million, including a $750,000 Livability grant. Known as the Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project, it will upgrade Route 981 from Route 819 in Mount Pleasant Township to Route 30 in Unity.

The first section of work will be from the Route 819 interchange to Norvelt. The grant will be used to widen shoulders to allow bike and pedestrian travel and improve connections with the regional trail system.

In Beaver County, a $14.5 million Pennsylvania Department of Transportation project on Brodhead Road in Aliquippa will rehabilitate the surface and shoulders, install a new traffic signal at the intersection with Center Grange Road, and consider a left-turn lane between Pleasant Drive and the Northern Limit. The project received a $750,000 Livability grant.

A $492,000 Alternatives grant will help PennDOT complete a $12.6 million project to revamp the Jefferson Avenue interchange with Interstate 70 in Washington. The project will include new signals, sidewalk restoration and improving stormwater improvements.

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