Lycoming County's transportation needs during the next 20 years will focus on repairing structurally deficient bridges, implementing strategic rail service to businesses and controlling increasing Marcellus Shale-related traffic.
Those recommendations from the Williamsport Area Transportation Study's technical committee were endorsed Monday by its members.
The list of projects, which range from highway, bridge, air, rail, bus transit and outdoor trails, fall under about $271 million in available funding, according to Mark Murawski, county transportation planner. About 80 percent of the project funding comes from the federal government, he said.
By the end of 2013, Murawski said the multi-year plan should be complete. Work to finish such projects will take much longer, however.
"We're looking at the transportation system that we have," he said. "The first order of business is to take care of the current transportation system. You've got to take care of what you have before you build this stuff."
About 100 county bridges will be rebuilt under the plan. Murawski said Lycoming County has some of the best data available on its bridges compared to others in the state.
"Some are in worse shape than others, so we have to prioritize," he said.
Committee members, which included representatives from the state Department of Transportation, the city of Williamsport and the county, also discussed how reconstruction of smaller bridges can be accomplished more quickly at a smaller cost. Murawski cited the recently completed Slabtown Bridge as an example of a span that was rebuilt quickly - although under emergency conditions.
"We have to find ways to do bridges faster, yet remain safe due to the number of bridges out there that need to be fixed," he said. "Many are old and don't have much remaining life."
SEDA-Council of Government's recent strategic plan on rail use also will be used to improve access locally, according to Murawski. He said it's important to plan economic development around proper use of rail service.
"We're seeing a lot more rail service coming in," he said.
Traffic control in the Muncy area also will be addressed in the plan. Murawski said an assessment of traffic issues and needs that "stem from the rapid growth in the Muncy area, primarily from Marcellus Shale" will be conducted.
He said alternative routes for truck and heavy equipment traffic will be studied to relieve main roads in that area.
Although funding likely will not be available, Murawski added that the completion of Interstate 99 through Lycoming County also is included in the plan. He said that adding the $300-million project to the list keeps it in the mind of planners in case funding opportunities change.
"Nobody can predict what kind of new projects will emerge on the state or federal level," Murawski said.