Observer-Reporter: SPC outlines Washington County transportation projects

More than $1 billion could be spent on infrastructure and transportation projects in Washington, Greene, Fayette and Westmoreland counties over the next 27 years, officials from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) said Monday.

In a public meeting Monday at the Courthouse Square Building, representatives of the SPC said that two marquee projects in the county would be straightening out a curve on a portion of Interstate 70 that has seen several rollover truck crashes, and an adaptive signaling project on Route 19 that will pick up on traffic patterns, coordinate red lights, and allow for smoother traffic flow.

The SPC is the region’s metropolitan planning organization and it works with the 10 counties in the Pittsburgh metropolitan region, sending state and federal funds to infrastructure projects. Right now, the organization is updating “SmartMoves For a Changing Region,” the long-range transportation plan it adopted in 2019, and is hosting public meetings in each of the 10 counties to outline transportation priorities for both the short term and the long run and gather feedback from residents.

The SPC has divided projects into three phases: the first is for projects that are actively in the works and are slated to be carried out between now and 2026; a second, mid-term range, which stretches from 2027 to 2034; and a long-range phase that begins in 2035 and concludes in 2050. Overall, $35 billion will be spent on transportation and infrastructure projects in the region until the midpoint of the century, according to the SPC.

Throughout the region, bridges have been a specific focus, particularly in the wake of the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge, according to Ryan Gordon, SPC’s manager of transportation program development.

“Bridges continue to receive the highest degree of funding in the region,” he said.

Dominic D’Andrea, the SPC’s transportation planning director, amplified that point, saying that “we made a lot of progress on our bridges in the last 10 years. But there’s still a lot of work to do.” He added that the number of unsafe bridges has been halved during that time.

For instance, a $25 million project to preserve the Brownsville High Level Bridge, which carries U.S. Route 40 over the Monongahela River, is set for some time between 2027 and 2034. More than $3 million has also been set aside for work on the Donora-Monessen High Level Bridge between 2027 and 2034.

The SPC has scheduled a public meeting for Fayette County at the former Gallatin Bank Building on West Main Street in Uniontown on Wednesday, May 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. In Greene County, the meeting has been set for Thursday, June 1, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Greene County Career & Technology Center on Zimmerman Drive in Waynesburg.

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