LOCK HAVEN - The much rumored and anticipated plans for a new state police barracks in Clinton County were reviewed Tuesday night by the Clinton County Planning Commission.
Details were sparse, no design drawings were available, and no timeline was given for construction, but county Planner Tim Holladay acknowledged a few details including the new location: The barracks along Route 64 in Lamar will be relocated to near the Mackeyville Crossroads in Lamar Township, just off of Route 220, but north of Interstate 80.
It's a place many local officials have said is more centrally located and more convenient for the mission of the local state troopers, who patrol the interstate and thoroughfare regularly.
The Pennsylvania State Police media relations office in Harrisburg was contacted Tuesday and asked for any details about the plans, but did not return the call by press time today.
As it stands, the barracks would be located on five acres above the new Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Clinton County maintenance facility.
Dan Taptich, of Taptich Engineering and Surveying, submitted a land development and subdivision plan to the planning commission for review and comments, but did not attend the meeting.
The property is zoned Highway Interchange and is located behind the maintenance garage and offices along Ridge Road.
Government offices are a permitted use in the district under the township's zoning regulations, Holladay said.
Access would be from the PennDOT truck access road - Ridge Road - across from Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction along Auction Road. That's just east of the Route 220-Fairground Road intersection, known as the Mackeyville Crossroad and where proposals are in place to upgrade the intersection.
Holladay said the building will be 8,554 square feet with 52 parking places, including three for handicap access.
There will also be a 16-space fenced impound lot.
Holladay said an extensive stormwater management system with five impoundment areas is also proposed. The parcel is located at the top of a hill, Holladay said, and "falls away in every direction so the run-off area is the entire five-acre lot."
He said the state police have a policy of placing new construction for existing barracks up for bid every 10 years, setting specifications and proposing a turnkey facility that operates under a leasing system. There's a monthly price established, and "after 10 years they bid it again," he said.
The present barracks has been just off Route 64 in Porter Township, not far east of Interstate 80, for 10 years. Prior to that, it was a stone's throw away and closer to Route 64. At one time, the barracks was located in Dunnstown, Holladay said.
The planning commission gave generally favorable review of the concept, which is still on paper, but said the township engineer should review the stormwater plans and specify how many employees will be working at the facility.
With the PennDOT maintenance facility and a massive Baker Hughes development at the nearby Lamar Township Business Park, this will be the third major development at the interchange in two years.
Baker Hughes acquired the property at the park, just north of Route 220 and I-80 south of Lock Haven, on Nov. 28 to build a regional headquarters, with seven buildings, to support gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale.
Construction began earlier this year and the firm expects to create 250 jobs.
PennDOT opened its new complex in November 2010. The new building is nearly twice the size of the old one at 99 Second St., Lock Haven, and was designed to better handle the efficiency of PennDOT's local fleet of 19 trucks with 19 snow routes, for a total of 660 "snow lane miles," including I-80, Routes 220, 64, 120 and 150, all considered the critical traffic conduits in this region.
The move is likely to increase local interest in seeing the interchange upgraded for safety and to deal with the increased traffic.
Just last year, before Baker Hughes and shortly after PennDOT, the county commissioners called for a major upgrade of the interchange, saying the situation was becoming critical.
The Mackeyville Crossroads has been the county's priority road project for more than 10 years, and was among several initiatives local authorities have been successful in moving forward on the state's 12-year transportation infrastructure improvement plan.