The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 17, 2009

Thruway makes progress (on paper)

WINFIELD — The design of the northern section of the proposed Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway is about 40 percent complete, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Chris Carney said this week.

While Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the state Department of Transportation freezing the Thruway project, Vincent A. Rongione said progress continues with permits being obtained and a bridge over the Susquehanna River near Winfield being designed.

The project left hibernation in late April, when Gov. Ed Rendell in April released $9 million to complete the final design and necessary studies and permits for a portion of the $525 million bypass.

The funding enabled final design for the northern end of the project, extending from Route 15 just south of Winfield across the river to Route 147 in Point Township. It also provided money for the design of a large bridge linking Route 147 and Route 15 at Winfield.

The northern section of the project begins just north of County Line Road along Route 15. After crossing the Susquehanna near Winfield, it would end on Route 147 near Milton. The southern section begins south of County Line Road and continues to the Routes 11-15 bypass overpass near Selinsgrove.

Officials have been able to continue with right-of-way acquisition of properties in the path of development, Rongione said.

“Even though the most recent money allocated was for design purposes, we were able to use some for right of way proposals and offers made prior to hibernation,” Rongione said.

Designers have continued work on the northern section — including the bridge design, a major component of the project — which is about 40 percent complete.

Officials are planning for construction to begin 12 months after the financial plan for the project is approved.

“There’s no way of knowing how long it will take to get that plan in place,” he said. “It’s something that everybody is working on, but we don’t have a clear idea at this point. ... Tough projects can take a long time, so the fact we’re plugging ahead is very good.”

Another Valley project — the tolling of Interstate 80 — remains in limbo.

Bill Capone, a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spokesman, said no movements have been made in the past month.

He said nothing came of a meeting held a few months ago between PennDOT representatives, the Turnpike and the Federal Highway Administration to determine when, or whether, the project would move forward.

“There’s nothing new, no new developments,” he said. “It’s status quo.”

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