With long-awaited bridge replacement complete, Gregg Township eyes next project

After being closed for more than a year, the Lower Georges Valley Road Bridge is finally open, but Gregg Township Supervisor Keri Miller said there is more work to be done in order to make local roadways safer and more efficient.

The 23-foot bridge, located at the 100 block of Lower Georges Valley Road, passed its final inspection Tuesday and has reopened for the first time since January 2018. The $774,653 bridge replacement was funded primarily by federal dollars, with 15% from the state and 5% local funding.

“After much dismay at the closing of the local bridge, residents who live on either end of the bridge and commuters who travel Lower Georges Valley are looking forward to being able to utilize the route once again,” Miller said, adding that the project was completed about a month ahead of schedule.

Eyeing the township’s next project — Bitner Hollow and Middle roads — Miller appeared before the Centre County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to request funding, using money generated by the annual $5 vehicle registration fee. In order to enhance the safety and efficiency of local roadways, the board voted to move forward with the $100,000 allocation of funding to help Gregg Township pay for the $1.26 million project.

“This route serves a significant residential population,” said Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development Mike Bloom. “We have a pretty large dairy operation out there ... (the road) is on a designated school bus route. There’s truck traffic associated with the agricultural uses as well.”

Bitner Hollow Road is about 12 feet wide, and Bloom said the narrow roadway does not allow enough room for vehicles or buggies traveling in both directions.

“Thinking about a 12-foot wide path, you put a large scale truck on there, and you’ve got a recipe for some bad things,” Bloom said.

In addition to widening the road, Bloom said work will be done to level the roadway, making plowing more efficient in the winter months. While roads are crowned to allow water to drain, Bloom said Bitner Hollow Road has developed a 10-inch drop between the top of the road to the edge.

“You have a pretty significant peak and two pretty deep ruts,” Bloom said. “Thinking about that from a snow plowing perspective for the township’s purposes, that plow just does not fit that road. As it comes through, they’re hitting the high spot and leaving the snow and ice on the other areas.”

The project will be funded in part by $191,115 township funds and $100,000 fee for local use funds. Gregg Township also plans to apply for a $970,000 PennDOT Multimodal Transportation grant.

Miller said the project aims to create safer roadways for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. If funding is secured and the project moves forward, she said the township will benefit economically from the construction.

“We really feel like this is an important boost to our rural community,” Miller said. “We’re also looking at it from an economic standpoint. There’s a subdivision that was just created on Bitner Hollow Road. The condition of the road would not make those plots very appealing for people to purchase and develop their homes on, and this would create a more appealing area for them.”

The commissioners voted to move the request to the consent agenda for their Thursday meeting.

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.