Timetable moved up for Route 60 change
New signs will be placed along the road in May.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The entire stretch of Pa. Route 60 will become a federal highway sooner than expected.
Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Craig said he was told during a meeting earlier this week with U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter's staff that the Federal Highway Administration has agreed to the change and new signs stating "Future 376 Corridor" will be installed in May along the stretch that extends through Allegheny, Beaver, Lawrence and Mercer counties.
"It was very good news. They are treating this as one project. They see it as an opportunity to have it completed as one," he said.
Initially, making the state highway a federal highway was going to be a two-phase project. Last August, federal highway officials said the area from the Pittsburgh International Airport to the New Castle interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in northern Beaver County would be redesignated in 2008. The rest of Pa. Route 60, which stretches through 20 miles of Lawrence County and four miles into Mercer County, would be renamed later.
Craig, who visited Washington, D.C., with a coalition of other western Pennsylvania lawmakers as part of the Pennsylvania Southwest Commission, said he was told road improvements needed to bring Pa. Route 60 up to federal highway standards would cost anywhere from $46 million to $48 million.
Craig said Specter's staff told the coalition that they were trying to get $36 million in federal funds earmarked for the project. The rest would be paid for by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Craig said.
Calls to Specter's office and PennDOT officials for more information were unsuccessful.
Craig said the only road work needed in Lawrence County would be to widen a stretch between the toll section of Pa. Route 60 and U.S. Route 422 near new Castle to two lanes.
Craig said the change in designation to a federal highway will make that section of Lawrence County more marketable for developers.
"We will get on the radar for site selectors," he said.
Craig said the current federal plans do not call for the construction of an exit near the proposed Millennium Park in Neshannock Township.
Craig said federal lawmakers are pushing to have the road renamed and upgraded by 2009.