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Interstate 83 expansion through Harrisburg targeted for funding

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The State Transportation Commission, building on the Act 89 transportation plan, has updated Pennsylvania's 12-year transportation program, with several midstate project due for funding.

The Interstate 83 expansion through Harrisburg is a key project that made the program.

The new plan anticipates $63.2 billion being available over the next 12 years for improvements to roads, bridges, transit systems, airports and railroads. That compares with $41.6 billion in the last update two years ago, Gov. Tom Corbett's office said in a news release.

“Today’s action represents a significant step forward to addressing all transportation modes,” Corbett said. “Act 89 provides a solution to a decades-old problem, and the legislature and I showed that, unlike Washington, we are able to put partisan politics aside and do what’s right for Pennsylvania.”

Act 89 will add $2.3 billion a year in transportation investment by 2017.

The newly adopted program, which takes effect Oct. 1, anticipates $12.3 billion being available for highway and bridge projects in the first four years. Public transit is in line for $7.9 billion; aviation, $370 million; the state’s rail-freight systems are expected to receive $228 million; and the newly created multimodal fund will receive $284 million in the first four years.

Four rural planning organizations, 19 metropolitan planning organizations and one independent county partnered with PennDOT in the review and development of the update, the release said. It will now be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for review and approval. The Federal Highway Administration coordinates with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review the plan’s conformity with air quality requirements.

Highway funds listed in the 12-year program are distributed statewide using a formula that weighs population, lane miles and vehicle miles traveled. Bridge funds are distributed based on the condition of each region’s structures.

The commission consists of 10 appointed citizens and the majority and minority chairpersons of the state House and Senate transportation committees.

State law requires the commission to review and update the 12-year program every two years. No capital project can move forward unless it is included in the program.

Some of the key projects funded by Act 89 and included in the updated program:

• Continuation of the four-lane Route 322 from the top of Seven Mountains to west of Potters Mills in Centre County.

• Construction of the long-awaited expansion of the Conchester (Route 322) Highway between Route 1 and Interstate 95 in Delaware County.

• The initial steps leading to the widening of Route 22 in the Lehigh Valley.

• Start of design work for the 13-mile Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway in Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties.

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