After it was determined that the endangered massasauga rattlesnake wasn’t making its home in the area, the Northwest Connector project to link the Cranberry Heights neighborhood with Route 19 once again is moving forward.
At Thursday’s board of supervisors meeting, officials recommended approval of a sales agreement with the Deener family to acquire a piece of a property needed for the connector.
Supervisors will vote on the transaction at their next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center on Rochester Road.
If approved, the move will set in motion a nearly decade-long plan to connect the northwest section of the township with Route 19.
“We’ve had some obstacles,” said Jason Kratsas, Cranberry’s director of engineering, of the project.
The Northwest Connector was put on hold more than two years ago when the state Department of Environmental Protection required the township to determine if massasauga snakes were living in Cranberry before construction could begin on the project. Under state law, the habitat of an endangered species cannot be destroyed.
Kratsas said a biologist Cranberry hired to examine the property found no evidence of the rattlers.
The township will pay about $170,000 for the land, he said. The connector, at about 1,800 feet in length, will bisect the Deener property, a working farm located near the intersection of Bear Run Road with Route 19.
The Cranberry Heights neighborhood has more than 200 houses. To access Route 19, homeowners must travel the narrow and winding Bear Run Road. The connector will provide a direct route to the highway, Kratsas said.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $2 million, and Cranberry is seeking alternative funding sources to help offset the costs, the township website said.
If all goes according to plan, Kratsas said, the project could go out to bid in December with construction beginning in the spring.