HOLLIDAYSBURG - Local PennDOT representatives met with area municipal leaders, police officers and planning agencies to highlight the perks of the recently passed Act 89 transportation funding law and to showcase construction initiatives for the next year.
PennDOT District 9 Executive Thomas Prestash told the group of about 35 that the Department of Transportation is projecting that Act 89 will create 18,000 jobs statewide in its first year, and generate 50,000 in five years. The program will also preserve 12,000 jobs, Prestash said.
He said the funding program "steadily builds" over the course of several years, making it more effective than previous plans.
"It's a sustained program," Prestash said. "It's not a one-and-done."
The program also seeks to help municipalities with their liquid fuels funds, which have been shrinking, Prestash said.
In Blair County this year, there was an increase of about $239,000 for local governments, an increase of about 7.5 percent. PennDOT is projecting a 60 percent increase in this funding statewide over the next five years, he said.
The new funding also will allow PennDOT to take on more projects in the local District 9, said Brad Brumbaugh, assistant district executive for construction. PennDOT's District 9 includes Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.
The district will spend about $230 million on projects this year, much of which is tied up in a $100 million project in Somerset. However, Prestash said the number would have been much lower without the additional money from Act 89.
"We'd be spending about $40 million in our district without Act 89," he said.
Districtwide, PennDOT will undertake 94 projects this year, resurfacing 196 miles of roadway, repairing 46 bridges - 32 of which are structurally deficient - and working on seven safety projects.
Prestash said district officials sought to add more variety to their projects this year because of the added funding, as much of what they do is focusing on repairing bridges.
"We realized we had an unbalanced program," he said.
Brumbaugh said there will be five projects in Blair County that will require detours for motorists. Repairs to the Piney Creek Bridge in Woodbury Township should be completed by August, he said, while repairs to the South Bellwood Bridge and the Sandy Run Bridge, both in Antis Township, are on schedule to be finished by October.
Repairs to the Loop Road Bridge, located partially in Hollidaysburg Borough and partially in Frankstown Township, and to the Sugar Run Bridge in Allegheny Township, will be completed in November, Brumbaugh said.
"The good news is there's a lot of work going on in Blair County," Brumbaugh said.
The group also got a taste for future PennDOT projects in Blair County. Vince Greenland, assistant district executive for design, said repairs are projected for two bridges in Tyrone and along Route 22 in Duncansville, among other locations.
The Route 22 upgrades, Greenland said, are the result of a PennDOT survey "from Duncansville to Mount Union" that identified trouble areas. The repairs there are projected to be ongoing through 2017, he said.
New technologies for bridge repairs and road work can also save local municipalities and tax payers money, Greenland said.
"I think it's great news for Blair County," he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.