By April Feagley
Daily News Staff Writer
Huntingdon County Commissioner elect Scott Walls was welcomed as a visitor at the monthly meeting of the Huntingdon County Planning Commission Thursday night.
County planning director Mark Colussy updated the board on the planning department’s recent staff activity, which included the hiring of bookkeeper Taylor Pollicino, and updated them on Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) projects within the county.
“We are going to start to see the River Road project move forward with work on the intersection near Water Street,” he said. “The next thing they’re going to work on isFourth Street in Huntingdon near the Million Dollar Bridge. That’s on the TIP and has been moved forward.”
Colussy also discussed his recommendations regarding structurally deficient bridges within the county made to the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Corp. to be added to the list for funding. The three bridges proposed for addition are located on South Moore Avenue in Mount Union, Miller Road in Jackson Township and New Fording Road in Todd Township.
“The bridge project in Mount Union is in a very structurally deficient status. It’s actually our worst bridge that isn’t projected to be repaired,” he said. “That bridge used to be No. 7 on the list and on the list of projects, Miller Township used to be the number one rank. Southern Alleghenies, working with PennDOT, with the bridge funding they got from the allocation last year, they could potentially be able to pay for the top two bridges. I’m looking forward to having those two projects funded in the next two years.”
Another transportation funding update came from the federal level.
“They actually ended up passing a brand-new transportation bill, called the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act),” said Colussy. “It’s similar to MAP- 21 (Moving Ahead for Progress), but they actually have some specific things allocated for the funding. They have some new funding strategies where they are going to have a big block grant in each state. That can actually work out fairly well for us.”
The FAST Act places emphasis on freight, both truck and train, with additional funding put into safety projects.
“We can be looking at some monies from that, but there’s not a whole lot of actual numbers coming out yet,” Colussy said. “We’re hopeful to see more information come out soon.”
The planning commission members reviewed the Lick Ridge Lane LLC, subdivision located in Miller Township, deemed a major subdivision because of the number of lots involved.
“Six lots qualifies it as a major subdivision,” said Colussy.
A draft letter with proposed staff comments, including concerns based on the fact the property is located within a Landscape Conservation Area (LCA) and considered an environmentally sensitive area, was highlighted. The comments were approved unanimously by the members present for forwarding on to the Miller Township secretary .
A minor subdivision in Cass Township was also reviewed.
“Community improvement awards are off and running again,” said board chairman Ron Rabena.
“We’re looking at a very similar time line as in the past year,” Colussy said. “And we’re looking at the same awards.”
Community improvement award nominations are open through Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, with applications due by Friday, Feb. 11, 2016.
The annual meeting date was selected and will be held Wednesday, March 23, 2016.
Colussy asked the board to consider areas in which traffic counts might be beneficial in the coming year.
“Southern Alleghenies does have a little bit of money set aside beginning in 2016 to do some traffic counts on some local roads,” he said. “Basically, how I was looking at this was that I was going to find some areas where we know some development is going to occur or where we would like to see some development occur. That would give us some data to use in completing a project or helping out a municipality.”
Prior to adjournment, two project/plan consistency reviews were performed, one for a positive train control tower in Brady Township and another for Sunoco Pipeline LP Pennsylvania Pipeline Project.
April can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.