Thruway project will boost region's economy
The thought of less congestion alone is enough reason to celebrate the apparent green light for the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway.
To think about the economic impact of a five- to 10-year construction project of this magnitude - 13 miles of new highway, a massive river bridge and a total of $558 million - makes the news all the better.
"Finally, finally, finally" were the words of state Sen. John Gordner, R-27, on Wednesday in announcing that the state will fund this project - with a 30 percent chip-in of federal dollars - through an ambitious new $1.8 billion "Decade of Investment" plan. Bids for the first phase, a $160 million bridge over the Susquehanna from Winfield to Route 147 north of Northumberland, will be sought two years from now.
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The spinoffs that will create many more jobs beyond the construction is exciting to contemplate.
First, hundreds of workers - from engineers and designers to equipment operators and laborers - will need places to rest, eat and unwind. And construction crews will need supplies - amesite, concrete, rock, sand, steel, tools, fuel, equipment, parts and more. The companies that sell those supplies, in turn, will push their vendors for more.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) puts it this way in regards to construction of a bridge, for example: If it requires steel, not only are jobs created for steelworkers, but also for ore and coal miners.
Of a more practical consideration, FHWA said construction of new highway capacity to accommodate the vast growth in travel has not kept pace. That's pretty evident for anyone trying to navigate "the strip" between the Sunbury bridge and Selinsgrove on almost any given day, and especially on weekends or the start or end of a holiday period.
More than frustration, though, is the lost commerce, the wasted fuel, the safety concerns and the lasting impressions of inconvenience these motorists face.
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Benefits of the thruway project aside for a moment, such an outlay of government funding is not without its concerns. We are, after all, talking about more than half a billion dollars.
But considering the nonessential, misappropriated government spending that's common today, we can be happy this wise disbursement of millions is coming our direction.