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PennDOT is holding more public meetings on the U.S. Route 322 project in Centre County, with some already raising concerns

A map of the Boalsburg-Potter Township area with three road options for U.S. Route 322 outlined.
PennDOT is recommending three options for consideration for the State College Connector project.

The public will have a chance to learn more about the options PennDOT is considering for overhauling U.S. Route 322 in southern Centre County, including the possibility of a new road connecting Route 322 to Route 45.

PennDOT is holding public meetings on the State College Area Connector Project 5-8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Mount Nittany Middle School in State College.

A new road connecting a revamped Route 322 to Route 45 is one of the options PennDOT is considering. That idea has already sparked opposition from local residents.

Project Manager Dean Ball said that right now, "we’re not at the point where we know it’s needed.”

“It’s to be included in our detailed study," Ball said. "If we determine it’s warranted, then we’ll look more seriously at it and determine if we end up putting it in.”

He said a more detailed traffic study will be part of the upcoming work required for the project.

A snapshot of a map showing a possible road connecting Route 45 to Route 322 that could be part of PennDOT's State College Connector Project.
This map shows a road connecting a redone U.S. Route 322 in Potter Township, Centre County, with state Route 45. This connector is being considered as part of the larger State College Area Connector project PennDOT is studying. PennDOT says more detailed traffic studies will be needed before deciding if the connector is needed.

PennDOT had been considering nine routes for the project, looking at factors such as the impact on the environment, residences and agriculture, along with engineering. Three of those would have followed the Route 144 corridor.

The three options now on the table all run in the Route 322 corridor. Some residents and local leaders are already speaking out against the plans. In a statement, the Harris Township Board of Supervisors said there are “no winners” with the three options.

“Residents will lose their homes and their livelihoods. Farms will be lost. The unique rural character of our area will be forever altered," the statement reads in part.

PennDOT spokeswoman Marla Fannin said the meetings will be similar to a public hearing. They will include a short presentation, then time for members of the public to ask questions at a microphone.

The timeline for State College Area Connector Project shows the phases the project has to go through before construction can begin.
The timeline for State College Area Connector Project shows the phases the project has to go through before construction can begin.

Ball said PennDOT hopes to have the Planning and Environmental Linkage study finalized this spring. After that, the next step is preliminary engineering and environmental studies, which has to be completed within two years. From there, PennDOT will have a recommendation for which option to move forward with. That could happen in fall 2024, with permitting approval and public comment to follow. Plans could be finalized by 2025, with design and right-of-way work, and finally construction.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.