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County looking to help fund projects in Gregg and Ferguson

by on November 14, 2019 12:54 PM

BELLEFONTE — Centre County commissioners agreed to use two different sources to help fund transportation projects in Gregg and Ferguson townships. Gregg needs to replace a bridge and widen two roads in the township. Ferguson is looking to improve bicycling and pedestrian safety.

The townships presented their projects to the board on Oct. 29 and asked the county to allocate “fee for local use” funds for the projects in order to leverage state funding for the project.

After considering using “fee for local use” funds for the potential Ferguson Township project, the commissioners, instead, approved an allocation of $50,000 in county liquid fuels funding and a support letter for the Ferguson project. That allocation is also contingent upon grant award.

In both cases the allocation is contingent upon the awarding of a state grant for the projects.

Fee for local use funds come from the $5 vehicle registration fee that is applied to all county vehicles. These fees are generated to help with local transportation projects and have been in effect since 2017.

Gregg Township needs to replace a bridge and reconstruct and widen Bittner Hollow and Middle roads.

These rural roads serve a new residential community, along with a large dairy farm, and because the road is so narrow, school buses and traffic from the farm struggle to share the roadway, said Mike Bloom, Centre County’s assistant director of planning and community development.

The project is estimated to cost $1,261,115. The township is applying for a $970,000 grant from PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund, but needs to match that amount with 30 percent of the cost of the project.

Gregg Township plans to cover $191,115 of the costs, and has asked the county to allocate $100,000 from the “fee for local use” funding to cover the remainder of the match.

“This pretty much is a full reconstruction of the roads themselves, particularly the widening of Bittner Hollow. Right now, Bittner Hollow, the width is about 12 feet, and as you know, that is really inadequate for the passing of two vehicles,” said Bloom. “This route serves a significant residential population. We have a pretty large dairy operation out there as well. It is a designated school bus route. There is truck traffic associated with the agricultural uses as well. So, again, thinking about a twelve-foot-wide path, you put a large-scale truck on there and you have a recipe for some bad things.”

Keri Miller, chair of the Gregg Township Board of Supervisors, said the condition of the road also prevents some from using it.

“Cycling is a very popular activity in Penns Valley. I have talked to several cyclists who would love to utilize Bittner Hollow more to provide connectivity, but it is too dangerous with the condition of the road,” said Miller. She said it was also difficult for school buses and dairy truck to navigate the road.

“We really feel like this is an important boost to our rural community. We are also looking at it from an economic standpoint as there is a subdivision that was just created on Bittner Hollow Road. The condition of the road would not make those homes very appealing for people to purchase,” said Miller.

Ferguson Township is also looking for a PennDOT multimodal grant for a bike and pedestrian safety project.

“This is a project that has been discussed as part of the Pine Grove Mills Small Area Plan,” said Bloom. “At the end of the day, the goal is to improve safety and access throughout the village for all users.”

Township Manager David Pribulka said they received a lot of feedback from people in the community about the project and the Pine Grove Mills Small Area Plan.

“One of the key issues that has been identified is to make that area operate a little more safely and a little more efficiently for all modes of transportation. And right now, one of the biggest obstacles for that has been with pedestrian and bicyclist mobility through that corroder. As you know, it is a high-traffic area, with two heavily utilized state routes, Route 26 and Route 45. We have had issues there in the past with some pretty serious vehicle accidents,” said Pribulka.

The potential streetscape project is focused on four areas which includes adding approximately 12 street lights along both sides of Route 45 from South Water Street to Deepwood Drive.

The second location, on the west side of Route 26 on the west side of Water Street, will add lighting and a sidewalk.

The third part of the project is to add a bike lane along Route 45 from Ross Street to Deepwood Drive.

The township is also looking to add a rectangular, rapid flashing beacon crosswalk on Nixon Road, near the cemetery.

To fund the $956,089 project, the township is looking to apply for a $619,263 multimodal grant. The township plans to use $236,827 of local funds and is asking for $50,000 from the county to be used as a match for the grant.

Commissioner Michael Pipe said that although he thought it was good project and beneficial to the community, he was unsure the Ferguson Township plan matches their stated plans for the “fee for local use” funds.

“In terms of that $5 fee use, we wanted to try to focus on bridges and road safety projects. So yes (to Gregg Township) and maybe (to Ferguson). I think the bridge project is a great use of the funds. We’ve done that before. I think that maybe we need to look at liquid fuel funds (for the Ferguson Township),” said Pipe on Oct.

29. Bloom said that both project are eligible for the local fee or liquid fuel funds.

After meeting on Oct. 31, the commissioners agreed to allocate liquid fuel funds for the project.

These allocations came a week after the commissioners discussed using “fee for local use” funds on a drainage project in Port Matilda and a three-bridge project in Milesburg. After the discussion last week, the commissioners agreed to allocate $60,000 to Port Matilda and $50,000 to Milesburg, which will be used as matching funding.


Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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