Highway Bill Deja Vu

House Republican Leader Mike Turzai announced yesterday that he would put a highway funding bill up to a vote next week to help Gov. Corbett fulfill his pledge to work on the state’s aging infrastructure. Turzai is not in favor of Senate Bill 1, which failed to get House action in June, but he indicated that what he would put forward for a vote would be in the neighborhood of the $2.5 billion the Senate approved.

The highway and transit improvements that such a bill would cover will still actually be inadequate to the maintenance and repairs needed but $2.5 billion will help keep the amazing economic progress that has been achieved in Western PA from eroding. Such an infusion will also allow highway contractors a chance to keep employment levels growing.

As an example of the current conditions, only one significant PennDOT project is out to bid in the western half of the state at the moment, the $15-20 million Route 28 widening at the I-579 interchange. September-October is typically a time when a number of major projects are lined up for winter starts.

The $17 million WVU baseball stadium has been short-listed. Design/build proposals will come from Astorino, PJ Dick, Gilbane and Mascaro.

In the pipeline, engineering/construction firm Burns & McDonnell was in the region during the past couple weeks pre-prequalifying contractors for the construction of a natural gas processing plant for Williams that will be located in southwestern Mercer County. The project is reported to be somewhat smaller than the Houston plant but should still be in the hundreds of millions in construction eventually. PPG Industries announced yesterday that it will take 120,000 sq. ft. in the empty Building 4 on Westinghouse’s campus in Cranberry Woods to consolidate the headquarters of its coatings business. The company has also been planning an expansion of its research facilities in Harmar, a project rumored to be in excess of $15 million.

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