PennDot applying for major grant

State College, Centre County, Pa. - On the I-80, I-99 interchange, there have been about 200 accidents within the last five years, according to a member of Centre County's Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO.)

But George McAuley, Deputy Secretary of Highway Administration with PennDot, said without funding no solutions can be made.

"State-wide the needs are a lot greater than some of the dollars we have coming our way," McAuley said.

On Monday the Centre County Chamber of Business and Industry (CBICC) hosted an event highlighting a grant PennDot is applying for this week on behalf of the county.

The grant is formally known as Federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA.)

The money would be put towards building a highspeed interchange between I-99 and I-80 to replace a slow middle turning lane.

And for an expansion of Rt. 322--to create four lanes of traffic between Potters Mills and State College.

Vern Squier, CEO and President of CBICC, said  "Somebody is going to reasonably make it home, make it to the destination and not be caught up in a very dangerous situation."

The I-99, I-80 project's cost is estimated $185 million.

And the Rt. 322 construction is about $500 million.

According to Centre County's transportation office, Penn Dot is requesting $45 million.

The rest of the funds would come from PennDot and the Centre County MPO.

"The issues with truck traffic and the volumes that we're dealing with right now could be greatly alleviated with this. There's lots of opportunity for the federal government to recognize the need out of this application," McAuley said.

The CBICC is pushing "Drive Forward," a campaign for local residents and business to support or contribute to help the initiative.

Squier said there's long road ahead but engaging the general public is crucial.

"Our community needs to speak up and have our voice heard on this issue," Squier said.

The deadline for the application is this Thursday.

If approved PennDot said construction would begin within the following 18 months.


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