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Rochester Road project gets green light from state

A decade in the making

CRANBERRY TWP — The board of supervisors announced Thursday that a decadelong project to improve Rochester Road will begin this year.

“The board has been pressing the turnpike commission and PennDOT to move that project forward,” township manager Dan Santoro said. “And I’m happy to report tonight that, finally, there is some tangible movement on that project.”

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has agreed to take the lead on the improvements, in partnership with the state Department of Transportation and the township.

Rochester Road is crossed by a narrow bridge supporting the turnpike. This corridor has long frustrated the township’s transportation development.

“The board of supervisors has prioritized expanding and improving infrastructure in and around the township, and this project on Rochester Road has been one of our top priorities for over a decade,” township supervisor Bruce Mazzoni said. “As with many of our projects, this will be a truly collaborative effort that benefits not just Cranberry Township but the traveling public on the turnpike.”

Improvements will include a widening of the turnpike overpass, allowing the township to widen Rochester Road to four lanes, as well as add pedestrian and bike lanes.

“It’s a bottleneck,” Santoro said. “There’s not enough room for bikers or pedestrians — two cars — it’s very, very narrow.”

Santoro attributes this achievement to the township’s relationship with the state.

“I think it speaks to the collaboration that this board has had with both the turnpike and PennDOT,” he said. “In advancing projects, they know we are a good partner, we will work with them and we will represent our interests in Cranberry Township.”

The improvements are in early design phases. According to Santoro, the turnpike commission has committed to preliminary and final design on a 2-mile stretch of the turnpike that includes the Rochester Road corridor.

“That means they are prepared to move forward,” Santoro said. “They have accepted statements of interest or proposals from consulting engineers … and they expect to select the project engineer within the next month or two.”

Design phases could take at least two years, Santoro said, but initiating the project at all makes it worth the wait.

“It is one of the top priorities not only for the board, but it’s the no. 1 transportation improvement request we hear from residents and the motoring public of Cranberry Township,” he concluded.

Honoring heroes

The board also honored former Cranberry Volunteer Fire Company president Dan Kane and former vice president Steve Dancisin at the meeting.

“I think it’s very important to recognize people that have served an organization that is so instrumental to our community,” supervisor Bruce Hezlep said. “And first and foremost, you’ve got to put the community first — and that’s what you both have done.”

Kane and Dancisin decided to step down earlier this month. The board chose to honor them at Thursday’s meeting, rather than wait for the customary annual dinner next year.

“Being a leader in any organization is a tough job,” Hezlep said. “Being a leader in an organization that’s gone through the changes that the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company has gone through over the last three or four years is even tougher.”

Board members presented the pair with certificates of recognition from the township.

“If you weren’t here, our community wouldn’t be where it’s at today,” board of supervisors chairman Mike Manipole said. “That’s definitely a reflection of your efforts.”

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