Duncansville project needs to be priority in here

If President Donald Trump’s proposed trillion-dollar national infrastructure-improvement initiative now were on the verge of evaluating shovel-ready projects for funding, the borough of Duncansville’s busiest corridor might be a good candidate for a grant under that program.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to resurface Route 22 in the borough next year but, unfortunately, doesn’t have the money to tackle needed drainage work in that area.

That caused borough officials, at a council meeting last month, to question PennDOT’s decision to lay down new pavement without pursuing the other important fix.

Council members were told that if the resurfacing was not pursued, potholes likely would be developing and that wouldn’t be a good situation, either.

The cost of the proposed resurfacing has been listed as $800,000. Adding the drainage work would require an additional $1 million to $2 million, because of the extensive utilities underneath the roadway, council members were told.

In addition to the resurfacing, next year’s work also is to include a new traffic signal plus intersection improvements and ramps to accommodate handicapped pedestrians.

If and when the Trump infrastructure initiative gets underway — hopefully by next year — PennDOT and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th, should be prepared to push the Duncansville project as a candidate for money.

Since the president has said that his initiative would be geared to shovel-ready objectives, hopefully Duncansville’s needed drainage work would be at or near the readiness stage to qualify it for funding.

What’s important now is for officials to remain cognizant of what’s happening — or likely to happen — regarding the president’s massive plan.

Granted, there are other projects of wider need and scope in PennDOT’s District 9, but smaller projects like Duncansville’s hopefully will not be rejected on the basis of size alone.

Route 22 through Duncansville serves a significant volume of motorists daily, and that fact must be emphasized throughout any effort to attract funding — either through PennDOT or under what the president might authorize.

At last month’s borough council meeting, Councilwoman Jeanette Mills described the current Route 22 drainage situation as “horrible.”

Regarding the issue of undertaking resurfacing without addressing the drainage needs, Mills said it would be “like putting money down and then washing it away.”

A point probably not given enough thought is that once the new surface has been applied, much or all of the urgency toward correcting the poor drainage might be lost.

But poor drainage oftentimes leads to premature roadway deterioration. For the Duncansville project, then, funds from the proposed Trump initiative can be likened to an oasis in a desert.

Fortunately, with the Duncansville resurfacing a year away, there still can be a window of hope that both parts of the needed work can be accomplished at the same time.

As for PennDOT, if the transportation department ends up with unused funds that had been allocated for a project elsewhere, consideration should be given to shifting that money for Duncansville’s use.

When the time is right, Duncansville leaders should partner with other officials on behalf of the total repair whose need has been identified, not a partial one.

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