CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — If it seems like Cranberry Township keeps growing and growing, it is. So, to make room for more development, the township is restructuring the way you get around.
Like many spots in the Pittsburgh area, you have to merge quickly if you’re getting off Interstate 79 north at Route 228 in Cranberry, especially if you’re trying to get over two lanes to get to Cranberry Springs.
If your final destination is the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, it’ll take you, on average, three minutes and 30 seconds. But come next winter, that time will be down to 15 seconds.
That’s because a roundabout and tunnel under Route 228 are going in. They will take you directly over to the north side of Route 228 without any stoplights.
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“This is going to be a tremendous benefit coming to the complex and coming to the north,” said Rich Hixon, Vice President of Facilities for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s the last part of Cranberry’s plan from 1995 to transform the area into what you see today. Back then, a KOA campground sat north of Route 228 and MSA’s corporate headquarters was to the south. That was about it. Now, many businesses, restaurants, and even hotels have made their homes there.
“They kind of laughed at us when we did the plan for 228,” said Dick Hadley, a Cranberry Township supervisor. “They sort of called it the Disney plan because they thought it wouldn’t happen.”
But it did.
Hadley helped come up with the plan, and he says the township recognized that its position between I-79 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike made it attractive for business growth, and more is expected.
“As far as the type of business, I can’t really tell you right now. We have a lot of strong interest from bigger companies to position themselves here,” said Gary Sippel, President of Sippel Enterprises and Allegheny Excavating Inc.
Sippel owns the land on the Cranberry Springs side of Route 288, near Lemieux, that has 89 acres ripe for building. The township says this could lead to 2,300 family-sustaining new jobs.
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That’s why Cranberry officials say they need the tunnel. They’re calling it the MSA Thruway. It will be 29 feet under Route 228, and work will start in the spring and go through next winter.
While crews are working, drivers should expect some delays on Route 228, but they will still have three lanes of traffic in each direction to use.
Cranberry officials say during the morning rush there will be 22 percent less traffic on Route 228, 10 percent less during the evening rush, and, for those getting off I-79 north, there will be 40 percent less traffic in the morning.
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