Integral to helping secure funding for various projects along Route 21 and connecting roads, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Johnstown) made a brief stop in Fayette County Monday to tour the area."The developments in this area are creating jobs and helping to rebuild our economy. In addition, it's important to remember that convenient shopping is one of those quality-of-life issues that can help to attract other businesses and development," he said.
Murtha, over the past few years, obtained about $3 million for work on improvements to Route 21 at the entrance to the Uniontown Hospital, Matthew Drive, an extension to that road and New Salem Road near the Fayette County Business Park.
He called the business park "a centerpiece of our efforts to rebuild the economy of Fayette County," and estimated that the businesses going in could bring 290 new jobs and $10.5 million in investment.
He said it is "encouraging to see the work progressing and the highway plans moving forward."
Plans include adding additional lanes along Route 21 in the sometimes-congested business-centric area of South Union Township, and expanding Matthew Drive and New Salem Road. Additionally, the Easy Street entrance to the Uniontown Hospital from Route 21 is slated for improvements.
"The hospital officials have been pushing to improve the Route 21 entrance to provide better access in and out of their facilities, which is so important with a primary health care facility like this," Murtha said. "I'm pleased that some of this money was able to advance the timeline for that vital project."
South Union Township officials are working hard to develop a business-friendly area, Supervisor Robert Schiffbauer said. That includes making sometimes congested areas more accessible for patrons.
And as the area continues to develop, traffic flow will increase.
The opening for the new Target store is scheduled for July 23, and Schiffbauer said it's just a matter of location for the Olive Garden, an Italian restaurant. The company that owns Kohls is also thinking about opening a store in the township, Schiffbauer said.
"It's very important (for businesses) to know that their customers are going to be able to get in and out of the stores if they're going to invest millions of dollars," he said.
Schiffbauer said that Murtha has worked diligently to help township officials secure funding to make those improvements.
"Without improvements on (Route) 21, we're always going to have a problem with a bottleneck," he said.
State Sen. Richard Kasunic (D-Dunbar), also along for the tour, said it was exciting to see so much growth in Fayette County.
"We've been waiting for this for many, many years," he said. "We've finally turned the corner here in Fayette County, and we're on the upswing."
Schiffbauer said the county is a prime place for businesses to move in because the nearest shopping areas are in Pittsburgh, Morgantown, W.Va., Greensburg and Washington - for many residents that's a drive they don't want to make. And with congestion in those larger cities, coming to Fayette County for an easier-access shopping trip is a possibility for outside patrons.
"This area is in a good position to see a boom in economic development," Schiffbauer said. "All of the pieces are coming together to try and make the most of everything we have."
Although the comments there are moderated, and I have no idea whether or not they will publish it, I left the following:
This is the same Jack Murtha that wants to play judge, jury and executioner without the benefit of due process for American Marines in Iraq.
This is the same Jack Murtha that labels the United States as the "enemy".
This is the same Jack Murtha that is currently under investigation for sweetheart deals to family and political cronies.
He may, as you say, "bring home the bacon."
But are you willing to accept bacon that is tainted with the blood of soldiers killed with the aid and comfort that John Murtha has given to their enemies? Are you willing to accept bacon that is tainted with Murtha's selling out our soldiers as a means of advancing his political ambitions in the U.S. House?
Think long and hard, residents of PA's 12th CD. Think long and hard.
A parent of a deployed Iraqi Freedom Soldier.