Fayette County residents got an opportunity to weigh in on local and regional transportation and development planning at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s (SPC) public meeting at the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce in Uniontown.
Abigail Stark, public involvement specialist with the SPC, said the public meetings are a significant part of the process as the SPC moves closer to adoption of their draft plan, “SmartMoves for a Changing Region.” The transportation and development plan will identify the region’s priorities for roadway, transit, and multimodal transportation improvements for the next 25 to 30 years.
Members of the public had the opportunity to learn more about the draft documents, look at maps, and talk to and ask questions of representatives from the SPC, and their partners, the state Department of Transportation, transit operators, and planning departments.
Andrew Waple, SPC transportation planning director, said he anticipates valuable opinions will be collected from these sessions. Several others are scheduled in neighboring counties.
“We hope to get a lot of input and good feedback on our plan,” said Waple. “It’s really important for us to go out and talk to folks (about the plan).”
The SPC, Waple added, serves 10 counties and 548 municipalities, and they can’t know or understand what’s happening everywhere they serve. That’s why the sessions are vital, he said.
Waple said the plans comes with $31 billion of funding - $16 billion for public transportation and $14 billion for highways, bridges, trails, and other infrastructure improvements.
Although the public had the opportunity to view the entire plan for the region, the Fayette County portion of the plan was the center of focus for many residents, and local and county officials, in attendance.
One particular facet of the plan that garnered attention was the completion of the Sheepskin Trail, which is categorized as a priority in the plan, but currently is “beyond fiscal capacity.” Other priority projects in that same category include trail heads, Route 40 safety and maintenance, runway extension at the Joseph A. Hardy/Connellsville Airport, Mount St. Macrina development site access improvements, Browns Run Trail in German Township, and Amtrak Capitol Limited.
While those projects do not currently having funding in place, Stark said it is important that they are in the plan and named as priorities. Once the plan is adopted, she said, grant and other funding sources can be located.
Other categories in the plan include long range and short range projects that currently have funding in place. For a complete list of specific projects, visit the SmartMoves draft document at https?//www.spcregion.org/smartmoves_DRAFT.asp.
Anyone who was unable to attend the session can still view the documents and comment. Writen comments may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to SPC Comments, 2 Chatham Center, Suite 500, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh Pa., 15219, or by fax to 412-391-9160. The deadline for comments is 4 p.m. Friday, June 7, 2019.
SPC president and CEO Jim Hassinger, who also attended the session, said following the comment period, the plan will be adopted, likely later in June.
The next public meeting is scheduled for May 13 at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg. Additional sessions are being held on May 30 at the Washington County Courthouse Square Building, and June 5 at the Greene County Office Building in Waynesburg.