I-99/I-80 interchange coming to Centre

Federal, state, local leaders united in $200 million project

PHOTO PROVIDED Local stakeholders who attended Wednesday’s meeting are pictured with U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson and PennDOT Secretary Leslie N. Richards.

From staff reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards and members of the local business community are united in their efforts to construct a high-speed interchange at I-99/I-80 in Centre County.

Federal, state, and local leaders met Wednesday on Capitol Hill to discuss federal funding for the major highway project. PennDOT submitted an application for federal discretionary funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program.

Tom Zilla, Principal Transportation Planner, Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), gave a presentation during the meeting that took place in a House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building.

PennDOT is seeking $43 million. The total project cost, which also includes improvements to Jacksonville Road/Route 26, is approximately $200 million. If the grant is awarded, the construction of the high-speed interchange can move forward.

PHOTO PROVIDED From left, U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards and PA State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff met Wednesday in Washington D.C. and unified efforts to construct the high speed interchange.

“The high-speed interchange at I-80 and Jacksonville Road has been roughly 15 years in the making, and Centre County has done an excellent job to advance planning to this stage,” Rep. Thompson said. “Due to the costs associated with the project, the county and state cannot complete this alone. We’ve unified every level of government, as well as local stakeholders in the private industry, to support this once-in-generation opportunity. I have called upon the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide full consideration for the project because it is a worthy cause that will increase safety for the traveling public and will pay dividends when it comes to economic development for the surrounding region.”

Local business, government and community leaders joined forces to develop a grassroots campaign called Drive Forward in support of infrastructure projects in Centre County, including the high-speed I-99/I-80 interchange at the Bellefonte exit. The project is supported by Penn State University, private businesses and numerous other stakeholders.

“We have applied for $43 million in federal assistance to move this important project forward, and its eventual completion will depend on decisions in Washington as to how to address such critical transportation needs here and across the country,” Secretary Richards said.

“Completion of a high-speed interchange connecting I-99 and I-80 is a long-time Centre County MPO priority,” said Jeff Luck, immediate past chairman, Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization. “Replacement of the existing interchange between these two federal interstate highways is an imperative for reasons of safety and economic development. PennDOT’s INFRA grant proposal meets the Trump Administration’s requirement for majority state and local investment in this capital project. If this opportunity is missed, tens of millions of dollars will have to be expended to prop-up the existing infrastructure and it will be at least a generation before this project is reconsidered.”

“The interchange project has significant safety implications for the motoring public, as well as increasing the ability to attract commerce, tourism, and new business investment into the region,” said Vern Squier president and CEO of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County.