Transportation group optimistic

A new president will mean a “significant change” in transportation infrastructure throughout Lycoming County, according to local transportation experts.

“With elections come new ideas and new opportunities,” said Mark Murawski, transportation supervisor for the county, at the Williamsport Area Transportation Study Transit Advisory Committee meeting Thursday afternoon at the new Trade and Transit II building on West Third Street.

President-elect Donald Trump highlighted infrastructure in his very first speech after winning the election, likening the United States to a third-world country in terms of its transportation infrastructure.

“There is no doubt about it that we have been under-investing in infrastructure for years,” Murawski said. “Are we ready and will we be able to take advantage of opportunities coming as early as next year?”

Murawski said that the county has projects ready to go as new funding opportunities and federal investments become more likely. Projects such as a new terminal at the Williamsport Regional Airport, renovation on Route 220 between Jersey Shore and Williamsport and multiple bridge renovations across the county.

According to Murawski, the projects are either in progress, or ready to start and would enable the county to jump to the front of the line when money became available.

“We can deliver quality infrastructure projects,” he said. “We’re open for business.”

In other business, the committee gave an update on River Valley Transit’s ongoing effort to convert the public busses to run primarily on compressed natural gas.

According to Kevin Kilpatrick, planning manager for River Valley Transit, the buses will use locally sourced gas from the transit organizations local dispenser on West Third Street. The new buses will be cheaper to fuel and more environmentally friendly, he added.

The full conversion of the 29 buses owned by the city transit company, will take between 6 to 10 years, Kilpatrick said.

Additionally, Kilpatrick said a new ride app will be coming soon for local residents to track the transit buses. The app will enable them to see when their bus will arrive at a certain stop, and also will send them text alerts about delays.

STEP Inc’s. transportation service is also moving forward with a regionalization effort that will encompass eight counties including Lycoming, Clinton, Union, Center and Northumberland, according to Daniel Merk, agency’s transportation program manager.

The next advisory committee meeting is scheduled for April 13.