Through all of the disruptive effects generated by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, it is remarkable that highway construction crews are keeping the projected opening of the northern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation (CSVT) bypass project on target to open in 2022.

Ted Deptula, the assistant construction engineer for PennDOT District 3-0, told members of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee on Friday that the huge CSVT bridge, spanning the West Branch of the Susquehanna River just north of Northumberland and south of Winfield, will be completed by the end of this year.

The bridge deck is completed for all 15 spans and crews are now working on barriers and sidewalls. Paving from Ridge Road to the four lanes of Route 147 north of Northumberland also is complete with the exception of a small section. More paving is scheduled this year and prior to the opening of the northern section in 2022, Deptula said.

Meanwhile, the process of acquiring land for the southern section continues and construction of that portion of the project, which will provide a bypass around the busy Routes 11-15 business strip in Shamokin Dam and Hummels Wharf, is set to begin in 2022.

Every step that the PennDOT engineers and highway construction crews take toward completion of the northern and southern sections brings local residents closer to the day when they can not only hop in their car for a smooth ride out of town, but perhaps more importantly, enjoy an easier and safer drive to the nearby store, the doctor’s office, a favorite restaurant or even just to walk across Duke Street in Northumberland to visit the drug store.

The new river bridge, which is becoming the towering landmark of the CSVT’s northern section, will link the four lanes of Route 15 near the Union-Snyder county line with the four lanes of Route 147 in Point Township, north of Northumberland. The day that section of the highway opens, most heavy truck and through traffic heading to points north and south — including to and from Interstate 80 just north of Milton and Lewisburg — will take this faster, smoother route and will no longer rumble through the boroughs of Northumberland and Lewisburg.

Once it is built, the southern section will shift most through traffic on Routes 11-15, including all of those trucks and travelers, off busy business strip. What will remain for local residents — those of us who just want to go shopping, to the movies or dinner – will be a much safer business highways roads and streets, featuring wide driving lanes, traffic lights and turn lanes — all operating with much less traffic.

All of those involved in this major project have done remarkable work, especially during this year of COVID, and we look forward to all of the results — not only safer, less congested local roads and streets, but some spectacular views from atop that landmark river bridge.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard. 

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