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Altoona Mirror October 20, 1998, Courtesy of Reggie Arford
ORBISONIA -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday for the recently completed reconstruction of Rt. 522 from Shirleysburg to Orbisonia. The $6.3 million project involved widening and reconstructing 3.5 miles of Route 522 and included some minor relocation of the highway to reduce curves and eliminate hills and dips. A second major project on Rt. 52 is the $10.3 million Mount Union Bypass, which is also nearing completion. Bradley L. Mallory, the State's Secretary of Transportation, was joined on the program by U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th District, State Senate President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer [sic] R-Blair, and State Rep. Larry Sather, R-Huntington, as well as county and local officials.
Altoona Mirror, October 30, 1998, Courtesy of Reggie Arford
When PennDOT opened the $13.6 million Mount Union bypass Friday for the first time, a trucker jumped in behind a police car in the ribbon-cutting procession and pulled on his horn for the entire 1.5 miles, pumping his fist in enthusiasm. "Big-time enthusiasm", said PennDOT spokesman Asbury Lee of local reaction to the new spur that will eliminate the need for rigs on Rt. 522 to thread through downtown. It was a Halloween treat, but the real trick to it was $1.2 million in federal money for preliminary engineering obtained by U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th District, in 1992 and a favorable ruling by the state Department of Environmental Resources, said Huntington County Commissioner Harold Lockhoff. The seed money was enough to get the project onto the first trimester of the state's running 12-year Transportation Plan and the DER ruling didn't require a prohibitively expensive cleanup of a former railroad tie manufacturing site -- just the acreage in the right of way, Lockhoff said. New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. built a two-lane limited-access highway starting at Route 22 north of town, crossing the Juniata River on a new bridge and connecting with Old Route 522 south of town at Allanport. There are paved shoulders and a state-of-the-art road surface that resists rutting from the tires of heavy trucks. Federal funds obtained by Shuster paid for 80 percent of the project. The state paid the rest. Route 522 helps bring some of the annual 1.5 million Raystown Lake visiters to Huntington County, is the access road for Riverview Business Center south of Mount Union and connects Mount Union and the Fort Littleton interchange of the Turnpike.
The ups and downs for the EBT. The great thing about the 522 work is it makes the EBT more accesible to the public. Better roads means more traffic and more tourism. This coupled with the new rack cards printed bye the EBT will help ridership. For the fan, the new road will make train chacing much safer and the road is less visible from the tracks than its predecessor. In Mount Union the new grade crossing will assist in the reopeneing of the north end of the line for standard gauge service in the coming months.
On the down side, the 522 bypass was the last straw for the NARCo site which still had a few structures standing. The great boney piles around the yard are gone and those that remain somehow are growing grass. The feel of the yard will never be quite the same and the sound of traffic will come more from the east side now. Down in Orbisonia the road is attracting nasty strip mall development that deteriorates the historic asmosphere surrounding the railroad.
On the whole the 522 work will benefit the EBT, but a close eye must be kept on the problems it will also bring.