Lack of funding forces planners to focus on smaller projects

Lack of funding forces planners to focus on smaller projects

READING, Pa. - Funding woes are forcing officials to rethink several transportation projects in the works.

Berks County transportation planner Alan Piper and the Reading Area Transportation Study laid out their recommendations Thursday for improvements to highways and bridges.

The four-year plan, called the Transportation Improvement Program, totals roughly $204 million. That's about 25 percent less than figures from four years ago.

"We really don't have a lot of new major projects as we did in the past just because the funding really isn't there to do something like that anymore," said Piper.

But on the planning group's so-called "wish list" are roadway surface improvements to sections of Route 422.

Piper said they also want to make sure there is funding available for intersection upgrades at 222 North at 73 and 662. Right now, PennDOT is looking at two different concepts.

"One is to widen the highway at the intersections and use a traffic signal," Piper said. "Another idea is to go with what's known as a round-about."

Roughly 54 percent of the $204 million will also be allocated for repairing area bridges.

"Bridges like the Buttonwood Street Bridge in Reading and the Penn Street Bridge," said Piper. 

Overall, the projects being proposed are smaller and are being focused on maintenance and repair.

The recommended four-year plan is just a first draft. The planning group's coordinating committee will meet in a couple of weeks and will make a formal submission to PennDOT for further approval.

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