Residents of Center County will have two opportunities this week to hear updates and possible routes for the State College Area Connector project which has been underway for more than a decade.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, along with the Federal Highway Administration, will be holding meetings from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday to give the public an opportunity to review the State College Area Connector Planning of the study of the environment and the links. Meetings will take place at Wyndham Garden State College, 310 Elks Club Road, Boalsburg.
The goal of Project SCAC – which Governor Tom Wolf said in 2019 could cost around $ 670 million – is to improve a 13-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 322 from the Seven Mountains to State College. Public meetings are scheduled to include information on environmental and community characteristics, the range of alternatives explored to date, and preliminary alternative improvements.
The SCAC’s original study area covers 70 square miles and identified that high rush hour traffic volumes cause congestion on US Route 322 and highways and intersections of Routes 45 and 144, according to a newsletter. PennDOT. Current road configurations and traffic conditions contribute to safety problems, he says, and the road network lacks continuity.
As part of the process, PennDOT has launched an Environmental Planning and Liaison Study (PEL) that will help inform planning decisions and streamline the project delivery process, according to PennDOT.
At the public meetings, PennDOT will explain the PEL review process, present the range of alternatives, discuss the selection process and preliminary results, and solicit comments from the public.
“What we’re looking for is to get a real feel for the concerns, what people have to say about a potential project across there. … All we do at this point is define potential alternatives or potential corridors, ”said Marla Fannin, community relations coordinator / press officer for District 2 at PennDOT.
Nine alternatives listed on the project site include corridors on Highways 144 and 322. In a meeting Monday, Harris Township officials discussed concerns about two of the proposed routes that would have an interchange on Discovery Drive, au- above the new township maintenance facility.
In discussions with PennDOT, Harris Township Director Amy Farkas said PennDOT did not map the facility when they did the alignment mapping and they were working on updates. In a statement posted on the township’s Facebook page, supervisors opposed all alignments along Route 322, saying it could force businesses and the church in the industrial area to leave the township.
“These alignments would forever change the character of our community. In addition, these alignments would remove all of our industrial zoned properties. There is no additional location in the township where the land could be rezoned for industrial purposes to accommodate any movement of affected properties, ”the statement said. Supervisors approved one of the routes along Highway 144.
Responding to affected residents on Monday, supervisors encouraged people to attend the meeting and share their comments.
Fannin echoed this to the Center Daily Times and said the comments were an important part of the meeting. PennDOT will use the feedback gathered to help them move forward.
Transportation projects go through five phases before they can be used by the traveling public, the PennDOT website says. The stages include the PEL study, preliminary engineering / environmental studies, acquisition and construction of the final engineering design right-of-way. The project is at stage 4 of the PEL study; the stage of the PEL study is not expected to be completed before spring 2022.
Construction may not begin until 2027 and will not be completed until several years after. In the Facebook statement, Harris Township supervisors urged PennDOT to complete the safety improvements started on Highway 322 in a “timely manner.”
“Doing nothing or waiting for full funding is not an option, as it is one of the state’s most dangerous roads,” the post read.
Information about the project can also be found online at www.penndot.gov/scac. The information presented at the meetings will be the same on both days and people will be able to attend the meeting at any time during meeting hours.
Written comments from the public regarding the State College Area Connector PEL study may be submitted by mail to PennDOT District 2-0, Attention: Dean D. Ball, PE, 70 PennDOT Drive, Clearfield, PA 16830. Comments may also be submitted by email to [email protected] or online through the study website. All comments on the public meeting documents must be received by October 3.