NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — It's not every day you get to take a walk or bike ride on a highway without a car in sight, but that's exactly what thousands of people in Northumberland County did; getting a unique look at part of the new central Susquehanna Valley Transportation Project.
"Those of us that live in this community and surrounding communities have seen the bridge go up over the years that it has taken to put it up and to be able to enjoy it like this on the ground is really great," said Scott Williams, Williamsport.
The new highway, that's been in the works for decades will connect Route 147 in Northumberland County to Route 15 in Union County.
PennDOT invited the community to walk the northern section of the highway, which will be open to drivers in July.
The view from Skycam16 shows the seven-mile stretch PennDOT is showing off, which includes the central Susquehanna Valley River Bridge, PennDOT's 8th longest bridge spanning more than 4,500 feet over the Susquehanna River.
The once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk across drew a massive crowd.
"Normally you'd be in a car but you're not it's a highway and you're walking on it, it's hard to put into words," said Bronwyn Williams, Williamsport.
"Before any cars can get on here we can say oh my gosh we were already on there," said Avery and Donna Hullihen, Sunbury.
"The bridge is pretty cool because normally it would be pretty illegal to be walking on it and there aren't any cars so you won't get killed and break your bones," said Alison Williams, Williamsport.
PennDOT officials say the road to getting to this point was decades in the making.
The Route 15 corridor study started in the late 1950's hitting many bumps along the way.
"It was re-initiated in the early 90s to start environmental studies and engineering and we ended up getting through the environmental process and engineering but ultimately had to put the project on hold in the mid-2000s due to lack of funding. However, when Act 89 was passed in 2013 at the state level it provided adequate funding to complete the project so it was reactivated and we are here today so it's been 50-plus years in the making," said Eric High, District Executive, PennDOT District 3.
PennDOT officials call the highway a missing link, needed as a way to connect the area to different parts of the state.
People who live nearby say it's great to see the project come full circle, "It's really going to increase connections and make it a lot easier to get around, move people and freight through the center part of the state," said Scott.
PennDOT officials say the northern section will open to traffic sometime in July. The southern half of the project still has a ways to go, expected to wrap up in 2027. The entire project will cost around $900 million when it's all said and done.
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