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Friday, February 19, 2010

PennDOT: Stimulus Cash Boosts Roadwork, Jobs

Philly Burbs
Projects in New Hope, the Newtown area and I-95 are receiving millions in federal cash.

KING OF PRUSSIA - Despite record snowfall this winter and plow blades wearing out, PennDOT is right on schedule with 30 projects in Southeastern Pennsylvania that are being funded with $257.7 million in federal stimulus money.

Bucks County has been awarded more than $24 million for projects and Montgomery more than $94 million.

At a press conference Thursday in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 6 Executive Lester C. Toaso said 18 of 30 projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are under way. The recovery act was signed into law a year ago.

Gov. Ed Rendell said stimulus money "works" and has put people to work.

During August, September and October, more than 5,000 people statewide were working on stimulus-funded projects, PennDOT officials said.

"Without that investment, those people likely would have been without jobs, drawing jobless benefits and helping to slow down an economy in desperate need of stimulus," Toaso said Thursday.

Of the 30 projects in District 6, four are completed and eight will start when the weather breaks, Toaso said.

"Our aim since early last year was to move AARA projects into construction as quickly as possible to help create jobs and inject those federal funds into our economy," Toaso said. "These special federal funds also helped us move important projects into construction that would not otherwise be under way at this time."

The federal windfall is earmarked for the five-county Philadelphia region that includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

Total cost of the 30 projects is $348.4 million with $91 million coming from other federal funding sources, PennDOT officials said.

One area of concern being addressed is crumbling bridges. Statewide, 133 structurally deficient bridges are being replaced. Of that number, 39 are in the five-county Philadelphia area, according to PennDOT. Of that number, 23 are in Montgomery County. None in Bucks are being repaired with stimulus money.

As outlined by PennDOT assistant press secretary Gene Blaum, stimulus projects in Bucks County are:

Newtown/Lower Makefield/ Upper Makefield: $1.3 million to improve Stoopville Road between Rosefield Road and Route 532 and between Stoopville and Lindenhurst roads. Crews are installing landscaped median islands at several locations, new traffic signals at Route 532 and Highland Road, and a new flashing warning device at Creamery Road and Linton Hill Road. The project is due to be completed in June.

Bucks state highways: $981,925 to reconstruct 247 curb ramps along eight state highways. Work was completed last month.

New Hope: $517,612 to build a pedestrian walkway. Construction begins next month. Borough officials designed the walkway to connect visitors to the business district. The path will begin at the municipal parking facility and extend to the western bank of the Delaware Canal and on to the historic New Hope-Ivyland train station. The asphalt walkway will be 6 feet wide and 1,078 feet long. The project should be complete by June.

I-95: $21.7 million to install electronic warning monitors and cameras along the interstate. The project covers 19 miles between Broad Street and I-676 in Philadelphia and between Academy Road and Route 1 in Bucks and Philadelphia. The project will pay for 17 new closed circuit television cameras, 10 message signs, 54 travel time readers and 40 incident detectors.

Stimulus funding projects in Montgomery County include:

Upper Providence/Limerick: $12.2 million to improve a 4.5 mile section of Route 422; work began in May. Crews are improving Route 422 from a half-mile east of the Route 29 (Collegeville) interchange to 1,500 feet west of the Royersford Interchange.

Upper Merion: $10.5 million to construct new ramps to connect westbound I-76 with the intersection of Henderson and South Gulph roads. Work is expected to end in June 2012.

I-476: $71.7 million to rebuild 3.2 miles of I-476 including bridges between I-76 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Mid-County Interchange in West Conshohocken and Plymouth. Work is expected to end in late 2012.

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