SHAMOKIN DAM — A thruway project in central Pennsylvania more than 40 years in the making is all but a sure thing.
Business leaders and lawmakers gave themselves a pat on the back Tuesday, taking credit for getting the necessary money for the massive project.
People in Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties have been hearing about the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway for nearly half-a-century.
After the governor signed that transportation bill into law Monday, local officials said it is full steam ahead on the project to bypass a heavily traveled roadway in central PA.
Big trucks and all sorts of other vehicles are always using routes 11 and 15 in Snyder County.
It’s a main route for shipping and travel and for ages, PennDOT and local leaders have been trying to find a way to pay for a bypass.
Now, lawmakers and PennDOT officials said they have it. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said the new $2.3 billion transportation bill signed into law this week is enough to fund the project.
“Unless something drastic happens to overall funding, there’s no reason this project won’t continue,” said Schoch.
The more than $500-million thruway project includes building a bridge over the Susquehanna River that could start as early as 2015. It will be one mile long, and the bridge alone will cost roughly $100 million.
“If we build a bridge over the Susquehanna River, it’s not going to sit there without getting connected,” added Schoch.
At the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, they celebrated with cake. Transportation planners said the CSVT is the largest project of its kind in the state right now.
“Now that bottleneck is going to be removed surely this time and i can’t wait for this next decade of construction and progress,” said Mark Murawski with the Route 15 Coalition.
Northumberland borough where one of those bottlenecks plays out all day, every day, people see the need for the thruway.
“It’s annoying, it’s too much traffic, they do need a bypass,” said John Evans who drives truck through the area.
“If my gas prices are going to increase that we see value to it, and not just up in a bucket somewhere else being utilized on something else,” said Judy Bickel of Northumberland.
PennDOT officials said the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project could be ready for traffic in 2024.