County highway plan: Correct priorities, with bags attached to funds

Lycoming County has a 20-year transportation plan. It was approved at last week’s Williamsport Area Transportation Study meeting.

The plan reveals achievement over recent decades. The number of deficient bridges is down to 43 and 25 of those bridges are currently getting attention, with the remainder being handled with the new dollars of the future.

Other facets of the plan show the correct priorities:

Completion of the Route 15 safety project from South Williamsport to the Route 15/54 intersection.

Reconstruction work on Third Street between Campbell and Basin streets in Williamsport.

Reach Road improvements from Arch Street to Industrial Park.

A Route 220 corridor study.

Conversion of the interchange between Route 220 and West Fourth Street into a full-direction interchange.

Unfortunately, the state and federal funding necessary to pay for highway work is less predictable than ever these days. Hopefully, a state transportation plan will be approved this fall.

The second misfortune involves the strict rules that come with federal funding, which requires funding be spent on the most used highways that are part of the National Highway System.

So, in the words of county Transportation Planner Mark Murawski, the county winds up spending half its federal dollars on bridges “that are already in good shape.”

Murawski correctly points out that the county’s plan should matter more than unnecessary federal rules so that the money can be put to best advantage.

“I think I know my roads better than the guys in Washington,” he said.

Chalk it up as one more unnecessary and unproductive intrusion by the federal government into our business highways in this case.

The shape of our roads and bridges screams for the best use of every penny of highway dollars. Too bad the feds won’t let that happen.