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Gov. Corbett Travels to Centre County to Sign Transportation Bill

by on November 25, 2013 4:30 PM

Centre County is center stage as Gov. Tom Corbett signs the new transportation bill into law. Corbett inked the bill Monday morning, during a ceremony along Route 322 in Potters Mills, a short drive from State College.

House Bill 1060 is being touted as Pennsylvania's most comprehensive piece of transportation legislation in decades.

It will generate $2.3 billion per year to repair roads and crumbling bridges across the state. According to published reports the money will come from increases in gas taxes and motorist fees that will be phased in over five years.

Corbett told a crowd of dignitaries that this is, "An investment in the progress of our economy but more particularly an investment in the public safety of our roads and bridges and transit system.

"The smallest two lane bridge in one corner of the state ultimately connects with the six lanes highways and massive bridges in another. And I hope as I sign this bill, the words we have turned into law, form into bridges, form into concrete, form into steel and a new era of prosperity for all of Pennsylvania."

Corbett says the transportation bill has particular importance to people in Centre Country. "Among the projects that can now proceed is a series of upgrades to Route 322, one of the economic lifelines to State College and Happy Valley, he says.

Most of Route 322 is a four lane highway, but it's a two lane road between Seven Mountains and Boalsburg. That section of Route 322 has earned a reputation as an especially dangerous strip of asphalt.

State Senator Jake Corman told the crowd gathered outside the VFW Hall, "The road behind me has had over 100 accidents in the last decade, some of them fatal." He continued, "This road was scheduled to be [upgraded] about a decade ago and unfortunately was pulled because of a lack of funding."

Corman, acknowledging concerns about the cost of the transportation bill, says, "The cost of doing nothing is significant." He also says, "This road is going to be fixed and it's going to be a lot safer for the people of Centre County."

According to Corman, planning is already underway to make improvements to the intersection of Route 322 and Route 144 located at the foot of Seven Mountains. He says that Route 322 will be, "Four lanes from Seven Mountains right into Boalsburg." Addressing concerns about where the four lane highway will be built, Corman says, "We have a route that's not disruptive to communities."

According to PennDot, the Route 322 Potters Mills Gap transportation project is aimed at improving safety and reducing congestion. Over 16,000 vehicles a day pass through the 3.75 mile area that starts just west of the Route 322/Route 144 intersection and extends to the Centre/Mifflin county line at the top of Seven Mountains.

That project will cost an estimated $105 million. Groundbreaking is projected for sometime before the end of 2014.

Addressing the proposal to make Route 322 a four lane highway between Potters Mills and the Mount Nittany Expressway, PennDot spokesperson Marla Fannin says that is a "separate project." She says the relocation/re-alignment of that stretch of Route 322 will have to go through the normal planning process and be approved by the Centre Region Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Before signing the transportation bill, Corbett thanked legislators from both sides of the aisles, calling the legislation a truly bipartisan effort, "Compromise is not surrender but rather a path to success."

The governor also singled out his predecessors, "I also want to thank former governors for helping on this, Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker and Governor Ed Rendell for standing with us publicly to show how some issues are really bigger than politics."

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Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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