An $81 million plan to improve the corridor from Route 65 in eastern Beaver County toward Cranberry was announced Tuesday by two state lawmakers and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
PennDOT over the next six years intends to rebuild and realign a 3.5-mile section of Freedom Crider Road and Crows Run Road west of Route 989 in New Sewickley and Conway. A new intersection with turning lanes would be built where the road meets Route 65.
The project will eliminate dangerous curves and the existing 10-ton weight limit, said Dan Cessna, PennDOT district executive, at a news briefing along Freedom Crider Road.
"This project has been talked about for 50 years, maybe longer than that," said state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-New Sewickley. "The economic benefits of this project are going to be huge."
State Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Big Beaver, called it "the most significant project in Beaver County" and said it would improve safety and the economy.
Both were among the bipartisan group of legislators who passed Act 89, the transportation funding measure that made the project possible. Signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in November, it is expected to generate $2.3 billion annually to improve transportation.
Mr. Cessna said the Crows Run stream will be relocated, bridges replaced, curves and hills mitigated, retaining walls added and shoulders widened to produce a two-lane arterial highway that will have a 40 mph speed limit.
Current plans call for construction in three phases: from Route 65 to Park Quarry Road; Park Quarry to Wolf Run Road; and Wolf Run to Route 989. Phases two and three may be combined, he said. There are no plans to make improvements east of Route 989.
Property acquisition will begin this year and construction is scheduled to start in 2016, with a projected 2020 completion date for the entire project, Mr. Cessna said. When it is finished, it will be renamed Freedom Road, and the state will maintain it.
For decades, plans to improve the corridor failed to advance, including a proposed four-lane Crows Run Expressway that generated considerable opposition from residents in the early 1990s. Mr. Cessna said the current project was one of many that were stopped in 2005, when tight funding forced PennDOT to focus on maintenance rather than new construction.
The improved corridor will provide a better connection between Route 65 and Cranberry, county Commissioner Joe Spanik said. "Everyone wants to go to Cranberry," he said. "Cranberry's going to come to Beaver County now."
Jon Schmitz: email@example.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic. First Published May 27, 2014 12:04 PM