With busy Route 19 as the backdrop, Gov. Tom Corbett joined with a host of officials Monday to cut a ribbon to celebrate the expansion and improvements to the Wexford Flats section of the road in Pine and McCandless.
At the ceremony in Wexford Plaza, Corbett used the opportunity to talk about transportation's role in the regrowth of southwestern Pennsylvania.
"Southwestern Pennsylvania is at a critical juncture in its economic history," the governor said.
"We are sitting in the middle of the largest economic boom in more than 150 years. We hope to become the location of the first ethane processing plant ever built in the northeast United States and this is all developing alongside a growing bio-medical and high technology sector that could revolutionize manufacturing."
Building a long-term solution for transportation is one of the keys to building a strong economy, Corbett said.
"We don't simply want a solution that will work tomorrow," he said. "We want one that will work the day after tomorrow and in the decades ahead."
As he stepped to the microphone, Corbett looked around and said he had been thinking about what Route 19 used to look like. He said he remembered when the late Herb Scott, a stock car driver, had an auto repair shop there.
Today, about 28,000 vehicles use the Wexford Flats section of Route 19 on an average day.
The $18.1 million Wexford Flats project widened Route 19, also known as Perry Highway, from 42 feet to 63 feet, adding a center turn lane, curbed gutters and sidewalks.
New, improved traffic signals were also added at eight intersections in the project area between Longvue Road, near the top of Pine Creek Hill, and North Chapel/Manor Road.
The 2.33 mile-project spans Pine and McCandless townships. Monday's ceremony was held in Wexford Plaza, through which the boundary line runs.
However, overall work will not conclude until spring 2013. In the meantime, some areas of the northbound lane will be closed as needed for work on sidewalks, paving and other activities that will continue as weather allows through winter.
PennDOT ‘s prime contractor for the project is the Golden Triangle Construction Co. Inc. of Imperial, PA.
Long Time Coming
Numerous speakers at the ceremony commented on the time it has taken to bring the long-awaited project to fruition.
McCandless Town Council President Bob Powers said the project has been in the making for 30 or 40 years.
Powers, who is bald, then asked the council's vice president, Jerry Aufman, to take off his hat.
"When this project started," Power quipped, "we had hair."
Corbett credited perseverance with making the project happen.
"This is the No. 1 example of what happens when people put their minds to it ... and persevere," Corbett said. "Things that were talked about for years are getting done."
Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, praised Cheryl Moon-Sirianni of PennDOT and Sara Kennedy of his office for their focus in getting the project done.
He spoke about bringing together PennDOT, utility companies, business owners along the Route 19 corridor, police departments, Pine Township and the town of McCandless as well as North Allegheny and Pine-Richland school districts.
"Everybody had a vision," he said. "Persistence made it a reality."
Turzai spoke about safety and congestion mitigation, noting that between 2005 and 2009 two fatalities occurred in traffic accidents in the Wexford Flats area.
"There just wasn't room for traffic moving (through) here," he said.
PennDOT District Executive Dan Cessna said the project is about 90 percent complete and it will have one of the most modern traffic signal systems in the region once the work is finished.