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Turnpike buys $1.8M property for widening project

In another concrete step toward the widening of Rochester Road, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has purchased a $1.8 million property near its intersection with the Turnpike’s overpass.

“Due to commercial development along Rochester Road, it was decided to acquire it in advance,” said Crispin Havener, Turnpike spokesman.

He said the commission, or PTC, voted Nov. 7 to approve payment to buy the site of trucking company Warren C. Sauers Co. Inc.

“It is not uncommon for the PTC to acquire properties as they become available if we understand there may be a future need,” he said.

With the decade-long Rochester Road improvement project in its study phase, Havener said the 2.52-acre property would be needed for the “total reconstruction and widening,” which includes reconstruction of the mainline structure over Rochester Road.

Cranberry Township supervisors announced in February the project had entered its early design phase, with the PTC committing to preliminary and final design for the widening of a 2-mile stretch of the Turnpike, including the Rochester Road corridor.

PTC previously agreed to take the lead on the improvements, in partnership with the state Department of Transportation and the township.

“It’s actually a part of the Turnpike widening project that will include the widening or replacement of the bridge on Rochester Road,” township manager Dan Santoro said. “As well as some widening along Rochester Road under the Turnpike.”

The narrow bridge supporting the Turnpike along Rochester Road — a state road — has long frustrated improvements to the “heavily used corridor.”

“It’s a much-needed project in the township,” Santoro said.

As part of the overall Turnpike widening project, the improvements will allow the township to expand that section of Rochester Road to four lanes, as well as add pedestrian and bike lanes.

Santoro noted there are several hurdles for the project, including a nearby bridge over Brush Creek and a power substation along the tight corridor.

He said the purchase of the trucking company’s property would be “key” to overcoming those challenges.

“This project’s a pretty big deal for Cranberry and that corridor,” Santoro said. “I was excited to see it.”

The project, he said, has been part of the township’s long-range plan for some time.

“We think this is a great step in terms of demonstrating the project will be moving to the next phases,” Santoro said. “They just selected a consultant a few months ago. They’re in the very early stages of starting the conceptual plan and the design.”

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