County Plans Funding for Road and Bridge Projects in 2020
December 11, 2019 3:02 PM
by Geoff Rushton
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Centre County commissioners on Tuesday approved 10 road and bridge projects to be funded by liquid fuels tax funds and the county's fee for local use in 2020.

Pennsylvania's Municipal Liquid Fuels Program provides funding for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of roads and bridges. Mike Bloom, assistant director of planning, said the county has $197,654 liquid fuels funds available. As is typical, requests exceeded funding availability, with 26 municipalities submitting 22 eligible projects asking for $1.3 million in funds.

Staff ultimately recommended seven projects for liquid fuels funding.

"How we look at these at a staff level is really based on need, the impact to safety, past county contributions as well as what the municipality or other funding partners are putting into the project," Bloom said. "We kind of look at it holistically to see which ones make the most sense at the time being to fund."

The selected project include:

- Halfmoon Township will receive $55,000 for Smith Road widening and drainage upgrades. The township or other funding sources will provide an additional $55,000.

- Ferguson Township will receive $50,000 for bike and pedestrian safety improvements in Pine Grove Mills. Township manager David Pribulka said at an earlier meeting that the township is also seeking a a $619,263 PennDOT multimodal grant and will use $236,827 of local funds. 

The project, which is part of the Pine Grove Mills Small Area Plan, will focus on four areas: adding 12 street lights along both sides of Route 45 from South Water Street to Deepwood Drive; lighting and a sidewalk on the west side of Route 26 to the west side of Water Street; a bike lane along Route 45 from Ross Street to Deepwood Drive; and a a rectangular, rapid flashing beacon crosswalk on Nixon Road, near the cemetery.

"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," Pribulka said in November. "And right now, one of the biggest obstacles for that has been with pedestrian and bicyclist mobility through that corridor."

- Worth Township will receive $43,263 for completion of East Mountain Road construction. The township will contribute $5,000, and Bloom said Worth has provided $80,000 in funding on its own for the overall project.

- Penn Township will receive $22,000 for guide rails along Siglerville-Millheim Pike and will contribute $1,000 of its own. Bloom said the guide rails will add a safety measure for a road is well-used for state park and forest traffic and has recently been resurfaced.

- Walker Township will receive $12,000 for drainage upgrades on Zion Back Road. The township or other funding sources will provide $20,565. "This is an area of growth with a housing development popping up," Bloom said.

- Potter Township will receive $8,500 for a speed display/message board. The township will contribute $818. Bloom said the speed display is needed because of traffic flow due to the Potters Mills Gap project and in recognition of the potential for future construction of a four-lane connector through to State College.

"Some of their roads that have not historically seen increased traffic are seeing it now and they’re seeing higher speeds," Bloom said.

- Union Township will receive $3,616.07 for signage on Unionville Pike and Jacobs Road, putting the final touches on a project begun in 2018. The township will provide $663.13. Fee for local use funding was provided for the overall project last year. "The one piece of the puzzle that was missing was some upgraded signage," Bloom said. 

With the seven projects, $3,274.93 in available liquid fuels funds are left over, which Bloom said could be applied to one or more of the approved projects to lessen municipal burden.

"Any way you slice up this list, a lot of good projects are going to sit there unfunded this year," Bloom said. "Most of those municipalities know that it’s going to be a three to five year cycle before they get an opportunity to have a project funded (through liquid fuels)."

Funds from the fee for local use — a $5 fee added to vehicle registrations in the county since 2017 — were approved for three projects. 

- Millheim will receive $100,000 for Park Road bridge rehabilitation and drainage upgrades. The borough or other funding sources will provide $154,840. 

"This is a bridge that honestly for a number of years had not been inspected and had not been identified as an over-20-foot bridge," Bloom said. "The state went out and found it, for lack of a better term. It’s had some deferred maintenance on it. It’s ready for an upgrade."

He added that the bridge provides access to the park, water facility and residences.

- College Township will receive $78,000 for rehabilitation of Brush Valley Road bridge rehabilitation. The township or other sources will provide $30,000. Bloom said the most recent inspection report found it is in need of critical repairs because of scour, in which water causes deterioration of the abutments. 

- Miles Township will receive $30,000 for drainage upgrades on T-864. The township or other sources will provide $96,000.

Because the College Township and Millheim projects address bridges in need of preservation, the county will receive $178,000 for future work through the state's Road MaP program, which provides a dollar-for-dollar incentive to use local funds for critical bridge rehabilitation projects.

In total, the 10 projects have a value of $1,672,529.20, with the county contributing $402,379.07 and municipal and state funding totaling $1,270,150.13.

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