A state agency overseeing eminent domain for farmlands gave its approval to PennDOT for the southern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project.

Matthew Beck, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation design unit assistant plans engineer, discussed the $865 million project with other members of the Great Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee during a Zoom meeting on Friday. He said the Pennsylvania Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) verbally granted PennDOT's request for land acquisition following a hearing in August.

"The approval does not automatically transfer any land ownership, but it does give PennDOT the ability to condemn productive farmland if needed," said Beck. "That's a significant project approval, not only because a fair amount of preparation went into the hearing, but it also ensures that if we're unable to amicably settle an acquisition of right of way with an owner, we'll be able to use condemnation to move the project forward."

The project team last month presented testimony about why the proposed design is the "only prudent and reasonable alternative for the project." The testimony also summarizes the project's impact on agricultural land, said Beck.

ALCAB voted to approve the design, which includes plans to avoid the ash basin and minimizing acid bearing rocks. PennDOT anticipates receiving the written order later this month, he said.

The northern section, already underway, is expected to be completed and opened to traffic in 2022 with the southern section construction starting in the same year.

Ted Deptula, the assistant construction engineer for PennDOT District 3-0, told members of the committee that the CSVT River Bridge will be completed by the end of the year.

The deck is completed now for all 15 spans of the bridge and crews are working on barriers and the parapet. Some materials are being moved across Route 147, so brief traffic delays are expected, he said.

Paving from Ridge Road to the four lanes of Route 147 is complete with the exception of a small section in the southern section. The first asphalt paving will be finished this year and the second in the spring of 2022, he said.

"We're still on target to open it in 2022," said Deptula.

Beck said PennDOT continues to gather data on the wind study for the bridge. A scale model of the bridge will be built for a wind tunnel test.

Beck said he is interested in seeing the wind data from August since it was especially windy last month.

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