Residents in Washington County will have an opportunity next week to learn more about long-range transportation and infrastructure plans that will impact generations to come, whether it’s building new roads and bridges or installing high-speed broadband internet.
The Southwest Pennsylvania Commission is holding a two-hour town hall meeting at 3 p.m. Monday in the first-floor gathering room of the county’s Courthouse Square office building in Washington that will include a discussion of the region’s 25-year plan, along with a question-and-answer session with the public.
The meetings are being held this spring across the SPC’s 10-county region, and the discussion here will focus solely on Washington County and seek input from local residents.
“We are going to present specific projects that are in our plan for Washington County,” said Domenic D’Andrea, director of transportation planning for SPC. “And I think (the public will) be interested in how we put the plan together, along with the goals, the vision and the strategy in the plan.”
Many projects included in the long-range plan will be discussed during the meeting, which include various roads, bridges and other transit improvements, along with broadband installation in rural areas. The last long-range plan was revealed in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, so this version will offer a vision that shows the need for all people to have access to high-speed internet that became an integral part of daily life, whether it involved virtual learning, remote working or telemedicine for seniors.
“It’s about connecting people to opportunity,” D’Andrea said.
That has been an especially important point of emphasis in Washington County, with officials pushing broadband expansion since early 2022 with the help of federal stimulus money.
“I don’t think you can have a conversation about infrastructure without including broadband,” Washington County Commission Chairwoman Diana Irey Vaughan said.
Representatives with the state Department of Transportation, along with local and county leaders like Irey Vaughan, will also be attending the town hall to offer their thoughts and listen to feedback from the community.
“This is an opportunity for our residents to come together and detail their vision for the county to see if we can include some of their wishes into planning by the regional Southwest Pennsylvania Commission,” she said.
While the long-range plan is constantly evolving with updates every five years, this one has also been assisted by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure bill passed in 2021 that is infusing more than a trillion dollars into various projects across the country. The five-year spending plan within the infrastructure bill has had a ripple effect on current projects and future plans.
“There are bridges on this long-range plan that would not have been funded without the (infrastructure bill),” said Ryan Gordon, manager of transportation program development at SPC.
The long-range plan can be found on the SPC’s website at www.spcregion.org, and there is a 30-day public comment period open from now until June 9. Information on how to submit comments can be found on the SPC’s website under the “Get Involved!” tab.
“I think it’s an excellent opportunity to see how tax dollars at both the federal and state level are being planned for and being allocated and programmed to future projects,” Gordon said. “Those projects will help the region, they’ll help Washington County and they might be in your backyard.”
Similar meetings will be held in Fayette County at 5:30 p.m. May 31 at the former Gallatin Bank building at 2 W. Main St. in Uniontown, and then later in Greene County at 5 p.m. June 1 at the Greene County Career & Technology Center.
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