A PennDOT study has recommended about $20 million work of improvement projects on a 41-mile stretch of Route 22 between Duncansville and the Huntingdon-Mifflin County line.
Four of the projects are already funded, but 13 must go through a review process during the next two years in hopes they pass muster and are included on a new statewide Transportation Improvement Program that will become effective in 2015, said John C. Ciprich, a senior project manager at the PennDOT?District 9 headquarters in Hollidaysburg.
Funding for transportation projects has been decreasing over the last couple of years, according to recent interviews with local officials knowledgeable about transportation, including U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District; state Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, who is on the State Transportation Commission; and Penn DOT District 9 Executive Thomas Prestash.
With vehicles getting better gas mileage, the yield from the gas tax hasn't been keeping up with transportation needs, and few new sources of funding are on the horizon at either the state or federal levels.
It is coming at a time when highways and bridges in the state and in District 9 are in need of maintenance and other improvement upgrades.
"Coupled with reductions in funding for transportation projects and severe cuts in PennDOT's and its planning partners' budgets ... measures were needed to evaluate how best to use limited funds," according to the study.
The study in looking at Route 22 focused on safety and maintenance improvements.
Four public meetings were held in Blair and Huntingdon counties, two last fall and two this past spring. A citizen advisory committee was also consulted about how to upgrade the existing road.
Ciprich said that four of the projects are already "funded and being developed."
They include improvements to the intersection at Route 22 and Forsht Drive in Duncansville; two projects to improve the intersection at Route 22 and DeGol Drive and Route 22 at Reservoir Road, just east of Hollidaysburg; and improvements to intersections at Turkey Valley and Juniata Valley roads and Route 22, known as the Canoe Creek intersection.
Thirteen other projects have been recommended, including seven in Blair County and six in Huntingdon County.
The top priority in Blair County will be improvements to routes 22 and 764, a major intersection just west of Duncansville.
Other projects in Blair will include: parking restrictions on Duncansville's main street; improvements to Route 22 at the Sheetz store and Old Canal Inn, Hollidaysburg; Route 22 in Hollidaysburg where it intersects with Newry, North Juniata and Allegheny streets, and Route 22 at Route 36.
PennDOT is also recommending a truck climbing lane at Route 22 near Canoe Creek.
The top priority project in Huntingdon County is at routes 22 and 829 in Henderson Township.
Other recommendations include: improvements to the Route 22-River Road intersection; Route 22 and Fourth Street, Huntingdon; Route 22 and Route 453 at Water Street; Route 22 and Penn Street, and at the Thousand Steps parking area.
The recently passed TIP begins on Oct. 1, Ciprich said.
But in January, the PennDOT district staff will begin to work on the new TIP to include the 13 Route 22 projects not yet funded.
The idea will be to come to a decision on the recommendations by the summer of 2014 and include them in the TIP that go into effect in 2015, Ciprich said.