With construction to begin next year, here’s what to know about the Bellefonte interchange project

After a lack of funding delayed construction, PennDOT is making progress on the Bellefonte interchange projects, a three-phase initiative that began in 2000.

During a display of public plans Thursday at the Marion Township Building, community members had the opportunity to ask questions about the project and how future work will impact their lives as they travel through the area. The three-phase initiative will create a high-speed interchange between Interstates 80 and 99. Local access between state Route 26, Jacksonville Road and I-80 will change, said project manager Craig Sattesahn.

“I’m glad to see it’s back on track,” said landowner Chris Exarchos. “It’s a much needed project for safety reasons.”

Exarchos, a former Centre County commissioner who’s running for the board again this fall, said he has been following the project since its beginning. After a series of delays, he thinks the finished product will result in a safer roadway.

The local access interchange project is set to begin next summer and is anticipated to be completed by December 2021. Sattesahn said it will cost between $45 million and $50 million.

The Jacksonville Road Betterment Project and I-80 bridge improvements to Hubler Ridge Road and Sand Ridge Road are estimated to be completed by 2023, but their completion depends on the construction schedule of the interchange project.

PennDOT does not have an estimated cost for the road betterment project, but Sattesahn said the bridge work will cost about $5 million.

Bellefonte Interchange Project Manager Craig Sattesahn explains plans for the project that began in 2000. The three-phase initiative will create a high-speed interchange between Interstates 80 and 99. Local access between State route 26, Jacksonville Road and I-80 will change. Marley Parish

About 28,000 vehicles travel on I-80 per day and 9,000 pass through the area on I-90, said Sattesahn.

Sattesahn said the existing ramps will be kept open as long as possible while PennDOT simultaneously builds the high-speed interchange.

“We’re utilizing the local access interchange for traffic control and traffic around construction on that road,” Sattesahn said.

PennDOT representative Todd Smeltz said project design began in 2000, but funding became low in 2010. The project is paid for by a $35 million federal grant, $8 million in local funding and more than $150 million in PennDOT funds, said Sattesahn.

Over the course of construction, travelers should expect delays, but PennDOT said representatives will work with residents to ensure they have access to their homes and are made aware of construction changes.

“There will be minimal delays of course, but we maintain access to all the property owners,” Sattesahn said.

Final construction is estimated to be completed by December 2025, concluding with the creation of a high-speed interchange between I-99 and I-80.

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