Stakeholders and community members in south-central Centre County have long awaited a transportation improvement that would increase safety and mobility in the often-congested area between Seven Mountains and the greater State College area.
A potential project with that goal was shelved in 2004 due to lack of funding, but in 2017, the department started a refresh of environmental, traffic, and safety data first garnered through the original study. The data looks at commercial development and community needs for a corridor involving Route 322, Route 45, and Route 144 in the area. Preliminary data from the refresh shows that from 1999 to 2016, truck traffic has increased 37 percent.
On August 27 of this year, District 2 launched a website for the new study, referred to as the State College Area Connector and is encouraging the public to visit the site. Anyone interested in the study can sign up for future updates and offer input at www.penndot.gov/scac.
The Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study for this area is being done in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and will evaluate transportation improvements in southern Centre County.
The results of the PEL study will identify transportation projects and alternatives that can move forward into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The goal of the website is to facilitate public outreach efforts during the PEL and future NEPA processes.
The map shows the study area and the environmental features within the study area.
In October, we will open a Public Involvement comment period to gather feedback that will inform the project as it moves forward. Outreach will include a virtual public meeting in late October.
Input from the public is important in identifying resources in the study area early in the process. Doing so will allow time to develop potential solutions that avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts to these resources. As the study moves forward, PennDOT encourages area residents, drivers, and all interested parties to review the study information and offer feedback.
In February of 2019, PennDOT committed $5 million to begin the study phase of the complex project, emphasizing that community involvement will be a critical component of the project-development process. Given the extensive collaboration with local communities, businesses, and others through the design, utilities, and right-of-way phases, the department is also taking steps to align resources for a targeted 2027 construction start.
The project also builds on significant improvements that have been made in the area and are continuing through three phases of the Potters Mills Gap (PMG) project on Route 322.