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Transportation officials outline long-term goals

Regional transportation officials have laid out a vision for the future.

That future is defined as 2020-2045 and is encapsulated in a long range transportation plan.

A draft of the document has been published by the Northwest Commission’s Rural Planning Organization, of which Warren County is a part, paints that picture.

The plan states that it “serves as the guidebook to the region’s transportation policy and candidate project identification” as well as the “gatekeeper” for shorter-term planning.

“The result is a plan that clearly delineates what the region’s project priorities area, by county, by project.”

Warren County Planner Dan Glotz is the chair of the Commission’s Transportation Advisory Committee.

He notes in an introduction to the plan that, with limited funding, “plans such as this will help us in spending our limited transportation dollars toward improving and optimizing our transportation system in the most effective way possible. The LRTP is a living document and process.”

As a region, Northwestern Pennsylvania faces many transportation challenges that this plan seeks to address.

“As always, our biggest challenge is in coming up with enough funding to be able to do larger projects that are needed. In many instances, we cannot fund needed projects without collaborative efforts among the five Northwestern counties, or from our partners in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.”

He specifically highlighted a decreasing number of deficient bridges in the region and detailed the importance of keeping what we have.

“System preservation continues to be an ongoing need and is one of the Commission’s top priorities. We need to hold our roadways and bridges together with more preservation-type work,” he said.

136 projects are proposed in the 2031-2045 window and projects included for the entire 25 years are valued at $1.8 billion.

The plan details that the planning “demonstrate the amount of funding that the planning region can reasonably expect” and explains that funding projections total $906 million through 2045 but have an actual purchasing power, due to inflation, of $621 million.

The plan indicates that focused efforts to improve bridge conditions have been successful but “overall pavement conditions have been affected to some extent because of this emphasis.”

The projects included were derived by a Steering Committee which “reviewed public and stakeholder input from multiple sources.”

“The resounding needs of the public were used to develop the strategic directions of the” plan.

According to a legal notice published in Thursday’s Times Observer, the plan is available at several municipal buildings throughout the county as well as online. A public informational meeting regarding the plan, per the notice, is set for March 3 at 1 p.m. at the Northwest Commission office in Oil City.

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