NEW STANTON, Pa. (KDKA) - Drivers along parts of State Route 981 in Westmoreland County will have to contend with some major road improvements over the next few years. It's all part of something called the Laurel Valley Transportation Project.
Westmoreland County already has a few roundabouts and this new plan will mean even more, but that's just part of the project.
Driving along 981 headed toward Norvelt, Mount Pleasant Township can be challenging especially when it comes to several intersections along the way, but PennDOT says that's all about to change.
"Overall, it will improve overall safety, the speed of travel," said Bill Kovach with PennDOT District 12.
To accommodate increased traffic and to make the drive safer, PennDOT plans on installing a series of traffic circles along 4.5 miles of 981 from just north of Mount Pleasant borough to Norvelt. The first will be where 981 and Route 819 cross.
"The project will improve the Route 981 corridor, and it will have two 12-foot lanes with 8-foot shoulders on each side," said Kovach.
A second traffic circle will be installed on 981 at Hecla Road and State Street. It's a dramatic change in traffic flow.
"This is 40 years in the making. This Laural Valley connector had so many different names: From the Laural Valley Expressway, it was a six-lane highway, then a two-lane highway, a toll road, to now we're taking the curves out of the road and straightening it," said Westmoreland County Commissioner Sean Kertes.
The third traffic circle is set for Norvelt, with the plan to consolidate three intersections into one roundabout.
"We're having major road development here and obviously, we're having jobs that come in because of this," said Kertes.
The state says the traffic circles are part of something they're calling the Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project. The three roundabouts and road improvements are broken into three sections, the Q20 being the first, with the V20 continuing from Norvelt to Bingham Road, followed next by the Y10 from Bingham Road to the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.
"Twenty-seven minutes will be cut off going from Route 30 to the airport," said Kertes.
"It's like the planets are aligning and feels it's a long time coming," said Gabe Monzo, the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport's executive director.
According to PennDOT, these three parts of the entire Laurel Valley Improvement Project are expected to be completed by 2027.
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