Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

In what could be seen as a shot across the bow of Senator Robert Jubelirer, a spokesman for Governor-elect Ed Rendell said Monday that Rendell was “skeptical” about the need for the project and would like to revisit the decision of whether a valley or ridge route for the highway would be less damaging to the environment.
Yesterday, at the press conference announcing his sisters candidacy for the office of Blair County Treasurer, Congressman Bill Shuster commented on the comments from the Rendell staff.
“He can’t move that money around,” said Shuster about the federal money that is ear marked for the project. “That is something that Congress would have to do and I’m not certainly going to stand back and let that happen.”
Shuster believes that the issue got blown out of proportion.
“I want to sit down and see what the facts are,” said Shuster. “He (Rendell) knows the importance of what I-99 means to this area, and I’m sure that this project will go through.”
The stretch between Bald Eagle and State College has been delayed for years for many reasons. The one hope for the new highway is a safer roadway.
The stretch of Route 220 that it would replace was responsible for six fatalities, 163 injuries and 167 accidents since 1996 from PENNDOT reports.
This morning The Daily Herald spoke with the senator and he said the project is pressing forward.
On the question if he felt Rendell shot across the bow, Jubelirer said, “I don’t feel that way at all. I believe that he (Rendell) was misinformed and didn’t check the facts. Since then, Congressman Shuster, former congressman Shuster and I spoke with the Governor-elect in New York. Governors, and senators don’t pick routes, PENNDOT does.”
Jubelirer believes that the comments were made without research.
“He talked with the group that opposes I-99,” said the senator. “The Governor-elect reacted without checking facts.”
Jubelirer wants to get off to a good start with the incoming Rendell administration.
“We talked several times over the weekend,” said Jubelirer. We are continuing to move forward with the project. The Game Commission appealed the decision by Judge Peoples. The way the law was written by former Congressman Bud Shuster has stood up in the courts. PENNDOT is proceeding according to the law.”
The Game Commission’s continued opposition to the I-99 project has disappointed Jubelirer.
“I met with the chairman of the Game Commission and we came to an agreement,” said Jubelirer. “When you make an agreement, you should stand by it. There must have been some detractors in the Commission.”
PENNDOT is proceeding with its Eminent Domain powers and it has not been struck down by the courts.
“There are no injunctions against the project,” said Jubelirer. “It should go forward as planned. The Governor-elect has been speaking of economic development since getting elected. The completion of I-99 is the biggest part of development we have. Who knows how many lives this highway will save and what company may have located here if that highway had been completed.”
The project from Bald Eagle to State College is scheduled to get underway in March.

By Rick