Pa. awards funds for walking, bicycling trails

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The state will invest $76 million in 80 transportation projects that will focus on reducing vehicle use and encouraging walking and bicycling, Gov. Ed Rendell announced today.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is providing $59.2 million for 50 "smart transportation" projects and $16.8 million for 30 Safe Routes to School projects that will improve safety and encourage walking and bike-friendly improvements, the governor said.

"Investments in smart transportation and creating safe routes to schools offer travel options that help reduce reliance on fossil fuels. By building more rational connections within communities we can reduce vehicle use and attract pedestrians and bicyclists. These small steps will help Pennsylvania and the nation combat climate change and reduce reliance on imported fuels," Mr. Rendell said.

PennDOT will spend $14.8 million on 14 projects in the Greater Pittsburgh region, including nearly $4 million awarded to Point Park University for enhancements to the Wood Street corridor and intersections at the Boulevard of the Allies and Third Avenue. Allegheny County will receive $500,000 to develop a safe network of trails for pedestrians and bicyclists in North Park and $300,000 to study ways of making walking and bicycling "an integral part of getting around Allegheny County."

Beaver County Transit Authority will get $1.8 million to build a traffic "roundabout" with enhancements for pedestrians and cyclists at a six-way intersection near a proposed transit-oriented development site in Rochester.

Munhall will get $781,698 to restore sidewalks, curbs and crosswalks that are deteriorating and to construct new sidewalks, curbs and handicap ramps along Main Street, Charles Street, Charles Street Extension and Lea Street.

Fayette County's Redevelopment Authority will receive $1.9 million to improve the Route 381 corridor through Ohiopyle State Park and borough.

Blairsville in Indiana County will get $3.1 million to make infrastructure improvements, including bicycle and pedestrian improvements, to Blairsville Diamond Square and Market Street.

PennDOT received more than 400 applications from cities, boroughs, townships, metropolitan and rural planning organizations, transit agencies and advocacy groups, requesting more than $600 million. The list of successful candidate projects includes planning and construction projects that focus on downtown revitalization efforts, local street connections, multi-use trails, traffic calming and transit-oriented development studies, among others, state Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler said.

"This overwhelming response tells us communities across Pennsylvania are anxious to work with us to use a better, more affordable approach for addressing our transportation challenges," he said. "That is gratifying and encouraging as we struggle to meet tremendous demand with very limited resources."

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Jon Schmitz can be reached at jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


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