PennDOT removes Route 45 Connection from State College Area Connector project

A connector between state Route 45 and U.S. Route 322 will no longer be part of the State College Area Connector project, which will instead focus on the transportation needs of the Route 322 corridor, the state Department of Transportation announced Friday.

In a press release, PennDOT District 2 Executive Tom Prestash said they made the decision after hearing feedback from stakeholders.

“In listening to the feedback of our stakeholders, we’ve concluded that this is a prudent approach that follows through with one of the recommendations of the PEL Study and puts us on a path toward identifying a preferred alternative for the SCAC project,” Prestash said.

Some residents who live along Route 45 were concerned about the proposed connector between state Route 45 and U.S. Route 322 due to increased traffic, decreased property value and safety concerns.

PennDOT is allocating up to $3 million to study and address safety concerns on Route 45 in Harris and Potter townships, the release states. The study will be done independently of the ongoing SCAC project.

The need for the study was identified as part of the SCAC Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study’s public input and preliminary engineering phases, the release states.

PennDOT said the initial study will focus on the section of Route 45 between Boal Avenue and the area slightly east of Old Fort.

“It will analyze existing conditions and identify potential safety, operational, and geometric upgrades,” the release states.

PennDOT plans to host a public meeting this summer to present the alternative refinement from the PEL study for the Route 322 corridors as part of the SCAC project. The department will also solicit public input throughout the Route 45 study and will provide more information during the early stages of the study.

The goal of the SCAC project is to improve a 13-mile stretch of U.S. Route 322 from the Seven Mountains to State College. The project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, has long been a controversial topic for many in the area, including the several owners of farms, homes and small businesses who could see their land be replaced with a highway.

The SCAC initial study area encompassed 70 square miles of southern Centre County, including portions of Potter, Spring, Harris, College and Benner townships, and the Centre Hall Borough. The refined study area is much smaller.

The corridors that were most recently identified in a report include US 322-1S, US 322-10EX and US 322-5. All three alignments would bring the project through the U.S. Route 322 corridor at a cost that ranges from $432 million to $517 million. Main line construction would span about eight miles.

The first two options would include a connection with state Route 45, according to a report released in August 2023. The third option would run the project south of the existing highway. Each would connect Potters Mills Gap to the intersection of Route 322 and Route 45.