CRANBERRY TWP — Bright orange letters on the side of Interstate 79 northbound announce the news: “MSA Thruway now open.”
The Thruway, which was first envisioned in 1995, connects Cranberry Woods on the south of Route 228 to Cranberry Springs on the north via a tunnel under the state highway.
Built on land donated by MSA Safety and funded primarily through grants and a subsidized loan from the county infrastructure bank, the Thruway also allows motorists from I-79 northbound to enter one of the two business parks, or even hop on Franklin Road, without ever driving on Route 228 and attempting to weave through several lanes of traffic to make a left turn.
Cranberry Township predicts the Thruway will make significant improvements to the traffic along the Route 228 corridor. Among other projects, Cranberry expects 700 vehicles will use the Thruway each hour rather than Route 228 during evening rush hour, with a higher figure — 1,350 motorists per hour — using the Thruway during the morning rush.
Additionally, the township expects the Thruway will reduce the queue on the I-79 north exit ramp by 40% in the morning, while reducing eastbound cars at the Cranberry Springs and Cranberry Woods drives intersections by 30%. In sum, the traffic along Route 228 between the interstate exit and the business parks' entrances will be shrunk by 22% in the morning and 10% in the evening.
For Cranberry, it's the finalization of more than two decades of project planning.
“We're very excited that the project that was envisioned 25 years ago has come to reality and is improving traffic circulation throughout that section of the township,” said Dan Santoro, township manager.