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New Central PA highway halfway complete

Vehicles travel on the northern section of the Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation Project, which opened in June 2022. Construction is now underway on the southern section. The new highway travels through Northumberland, Union and Snyder counties.

A 13-mile highway decades in the making is expected to be finished by 2027.

The Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation Project is also expected to reduce traffic delays and improve access to several tourism and recreational destinations, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project recently received a $69 million grant from the department.

The road travels north to south through Northumberland, Union and Snyder counties. The northern section connects Route 147, just south of Montandon, to Route 15, just south of Winfield. Construction wrapped and the section opened in June.

Work on the 6.1-mile southern section began in May. That section connects Route 15, just south of Winfield, to Routes 11 and 15, just north of Selinsgrove.

Original studies to build a highway through the region were done in the 1960s, said Matthew Beck, PennDOT Assistant District Plans Engineer.

"Then fast forward a couple of decades in the mid 1990s, the project as we know it today was reinitiated," he said.

There were funding delays and other studies to complete, but eventually construction on the northern section began in 2016.

Around 13% of rural roads and 10% of off-system bridges, most of which are in rural areas, are in poor condition because of years without funding for improvements, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The fatality rate on rural roads is also two times greater than on urban roads.

Currently, the project area exceeds statewide crash and fatality rates, and a high number of crashes involve trucks, according to the department.

The traffic is mix of trucks and travelers passing through or going to local areas, businesses and residences. Beck said the congestion problems are because of the traffic make up.

“There's also safety problems that occur because of the conflicts between the through traffic, particularly the trucks, and the local traffic," he said. "So those traffic conflicts are leading to those higher crash rates.”

Since it’s a new highway, most of the work on the southern section will be completed outside of existing roadways. Some local roads may be reconfigured to accommodate the construction of bridges. The longest detour will be several months, Beck said.

For more details and updates on the project, visit www.csvt.com.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.