The Reading Area Transportation Study Coordinating Committee approved a plan that will bring improvements to roads and bridges and transportation upgrades through the 2023-26 Transportation Improvement Program.
The plan includes projects valued at a total of $241 million-plus for the highway system and bridges, and 26 projects valued at nearly $62 million for the transit system.
“Basically, this is a capital budget where projects are in different stages over a four-year period,” Alan Piper, Berks County transportation planner said. “Some are intended to start in 2023 and 2024 and others are farther out.”
The 2023-26 Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, includes 105 projects in all. The projects, he said, are awarded by PennDOT. “We are a metro planning organization required to work with PennDOT to develop the plan based on projections with real dollars,” he said.
The Reading Area Transportation Study Coordinating Committee is composed of elected municipal and county officials and representatives of the Berks County Planning Commission. It unanimously approved the plan covering fiscal years 2023 through 2026 at its July 14 meeting.
Motorists can expect to see Route 222 widened to four lanes between Schaeffer Road in Maidencreek Township to the Kutztown Bypass in Richmond Township. That project, costing $70 million, includes installing roundabouts at the intersections with Pleasant Hill Road and Richmond Road.
That work is between recently completed roundabouts on Route 222, he said.
Work on Route 61 will also start, connecting to the current Route 222 project that is expected to be completed by year’s end.
Also, about $7.3 million was budgeted for the next two years for a long-delayed PennDOT project to put a roundabout on Route 222 at Long Lane in Maxatawny Township, Piper said. That project is expected to go out for bid early next year and start next summer or later.
“Our goal is to have Route 222 to be four lanes all the way,” he said. However, work from the Kutztown Bypass to the current work at Route 863 at the Lehigh County line is several years away.
The area from Long Lane to the end of the Kutztown Bypass is seeing a lot of proposals for warehouses, Piper said, and PennDOT will be able to require improvements to the roads by the developers. “That would help a lot and then we would have to go the rest of the way to the county line,” he said.
Also on tap is reconstruction of the Route 422 Bypass around Reading. Piper said that $650 million project is expensive but the funding for the first phase is secured. That project is expected to start in 2026 or 2027.
In the very near future, work will start in the Reading urban areas to address safety by resurfacing several roads and fixing bridges throughout the area, he said.
A full list of projects included in the plan can be found on the Berks County Planning Commission’s website.