New 20-year countywide transportation plan approved

The Williamsport Area Transportation Study Coordinating Committee unanimously approved its 20-year transportation plan Thursday, in time for the Dec. 31 deadline to remain eligible for federal funding.

The plan outlines $250 million in total project needs over 20 years based on anticipated available funding, said Mark Murawski, county transportation planner.

Murawski announced Lycoming County’s highways and bridges will receive about $60 million over four years, due in part to the state transportation bill recently passed, as $40 million is state funding and $25 million is federal.

A portion of that state funding is included in the $113 million the bill provides to the county’s highways and bridges over the next 12 years.

Plus, the bill authorized $558 million over 10 years toward the completion of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway Project. The 13-mile project will be the construction of a new, four-lane, limited-access highway that will connect Route 147 near Montandon to Route 15 near Winfield and will connect Routes 11 and 15 just north of Selinsgrove.

The county’s transit funding is unavailable at this point, Murawski said.

The wild card is that the “highway federal trust fund is going broke,” he said.

“Congress must act to bail the fund out before 2015, or it will be bankrupted,” Murawski said. That would tremendously affect the county, as it could “almost eliminate future federal subsidies for the whole state.”

That conversation is expected to take place when Congress takes up the transportation bill next year to be passed by September.

Meanwhile, county officials look forward to completing the plan’s main projects.

“We have a good team here ready to deliver these projects,” Murawski said.

Some of those projects for 2014 include:

U.S. 15 safety project where a median barrier is added from South Williamsport Borough to the 54/15 intersection will be completed next year

Reconstruction of the following major streets in Williamsport: $700,000 for design work on Third Street between Campbell and Basin streets starting next year; $920,000 for design, utilities and right-of-way for Fourth Street in Newberry

Reach Road improvements from Arch Street to the Industrial Park will be done next year, including restoration work, pavement, resurfacing, selective widening and better drainage

The Route 220 corridor study will be done next year, and once the results are known, those projects may be added to the plan

The Route 220 and 405 Hughesville intersection study is underway and recommendations will come out next year

Possibly the interchange between Route 220 and West Fourth Street where it will be a full-direction interchange

Other projects in the plan, but which aren’t eligible for transportation funding, is the Williamsport Regional Airport’s proposed terminal airport terminal and its associated runway and safety improvements; investments in rail sidings; and an interconnected trail system for bicyclers and pedestrians in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.