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Ground broken for $156M thruway river bridge

May 25, 2016

Photo by Justin Engle of The Daily Item

WINFIELD — A half-century of promises and delays officially became a thing of the past Friday when 24 federal, state and local officials, led by state Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards, broke ground for the first contract in the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project — the $156 million river bridge.

Richards said: “For those who might have waited 50 years to get to this point, it was worth the wait for something this big. When this entire $670 million project is done, which is in eight more years, it is going to make a huge difference in this area, to the local community and economy, as well as to the entire region. This is one of the biggest investments we are making in the state.”

The thruway project ultimately will provide a 13-mile limited access highway connecting Route 147 in Northumberland County, just south of the Route 45 interchange, to Routes 11-15 in Snyder County, just north of Selinsgrove. When completed, the bridge over the Susquehanna River will be more than 4,500 feet long with a peak elevation of 180 feet.

“We are at the point where everything has been done right,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10, of Cogan Station. “This has been worked on for 50 years, and over the years, a lot of people have had a little bit of input into this. Everyone helped get us to this point.”

It has always come down to money, he said. “But the timing was right for this project, and it will benefit the community by creating jobs now and in the future. It is going to increase business for retailers, bring tourism in. There is no downside to this.”

For those still wondering if the project is really going to happen, said state Sen. John Gordner, R-27, of Berwick, “All you have to do is be here to see what has already been done on the construction site, and you’ll know there is no turning back. This is a 50-year effort, and it will be amazing when that road to nowhere, the highway up from Harrisburg, becomes a road to somewhere.”

People who live in this area never thought they’d live to see the project become a reality, added state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver. R-108, of Sunbury. “But here we are, living to see the project come to fruition. We’ll get the truck and through traffic off our local roads and create a safe situation for the traveling public,” she said.
Culver said the project and its economic aftermath are projected to create 10,000 jobs, some long-term and some short-term. “We are already seeing engineers moving into the area, settling in to work the project,” she said.

Longtime thruway proponent Joe McGranahan, mayor of Shamokin Dam and chairman of the Greater Susquehann Valley Chamber of Commerce’s transportation task force, said: “To say that the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway was a long time in coming is an understatement. While getting funding for the CSVT was always a political battle, it was never a partisan political battle. There were times Democrats took the lead on this project and times when Republicans were in the forefront. But neither group lost sight of the importance this project has to our region and citizens or to their obligation to work together to bring it about.”

The ground-breaking ceremony was a first step, he said. “From today forward, it will be our challenge to make certain this great blessing counts for the maximum economic development possible for our Valley and its residents. That’s a challenge we must all embrace,” he said.
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This story by The Daily Item.
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