District receives $1.2 million for paving project

Among 22 of the 67 counties statewide, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday that in Lycoming County, Williamsport Area School District will receive a grant for nearly $1.2 million for work on Millionaire Drive in front of the high school.

Through the state Department of Transportation Multimodal Transportation fund, 22 counties will receive funds for highway, bridge, bike, pedestrian, ports and waterways projects, according to Wolf’s press release.

Jeffrey Richards, Williamsport Area School District business administrator, said the district had applied for the grant about two years ago. He said they have been working on putting this project together for over four years.

“I never heard anything, so I never thought we were going to get it,” he said.

Millionaire Drive is the roadway that leads up to the high school from West Fourth Street to Fox Hollow Road.

“It’s badly in need of repairs,” Richards said. “We were hoping to get help (with funding).”

Richards said the district had applied for a 60 percent versus 40 percent grant, in which the district is responsible for 40 percent of the estimated $2 million dollar project. He said the district will be expected to pay about $800,000, and the grant it received for $1.2 million will be the other 60 percent.

As the district had anticipated paying for it, it was expecting a different timeline for the project.

“I just met with the engineers. We met with them a week or two ago, and we were trying to break the project into fourths so we would do it as a four-year project if we were paying ourselves,” he said. “Now we can do it as a two-year project as we originally planned.”

Where the district’s 40 percent of the funds come from will be up to the school board, Richards said.

“It could come out of capital reserve or a fund balance. We’re not sure. Our board will have to discuss it,” he said.

He said the main issue is that the school opened in 1972, and it is the original road from 1968.

“As far as the drainage pipes, they were corrugated metal. They were all rotted out … The curbing is all crumbling. The catch basins are hurting with all the traffic,” he said. “It’s just time to completely go through and redo it.”

He said with the new funds, the project should start this summer.

“We did some testing with soft spots … They need to be excavated out and soil put in to be compacted properly. As far as replacing piping and anything that’s going to unsettle the ground one year and get all in replace one summer,” he said. “Then let it settle over the winter, then come back and do the paving over the following summer.”

Richards said it’s one of the biggest needs in the district.

“With all the traffic that goes up and down there … Plus it’s used by the community to travel back and forth as a shortcut, even though the district owns the road,” he said. “With the upcoming Drum Corps competition in September, we hope for it to be improved (by then).”

He said with the international competition taking place at STA Stadium, the road should be in better shape for those traveling to it.

“We have a great stadium and a great complex,” Richards said. “It’d be nice to have a good road coming into it.”

Local lawmakers praised the school’s new funds.

“When the Legislature enacted Act 89 of 2013, we recognized the need to enhance highway, bridge, bike, pedestrian and other investments in our communities,” said state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, in a recent press release. “These funds will improve travel for motorists heading to the high school. I applaud the officials who worked on this grant funding for the betterment of our local community.”

State Rep. Jeff Wheeland,R-Loyalsock Township, also applauded the work to the high school.

“This is great news for the Williamsport Area High School as improvements have been needed for some time,” he said in a recent press release. “This is an excellent example of making our overall infrastructure better in the city. I am pleased that this project will go forward.”

The others receiving funds are Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Cambria, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Jefferson, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Susquehanna and Wayne counties.

In Clinton County, a $380,000 grant will go toward the rehabilitation of Bucktail Bridge, including replacement of the concrete deck and rehabilitation of sidewalk and approaches in Chapman Township, according to the governor’s press release.