Sen. Casey calls for more infrastructure investment in Meadville visit | News
The federal government needs to invest more funds in localized improvement projects like the cleanup of French Creek, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said.
Casey was in Meadville on Tuesday afternoon to mark the previously announced awarding of a $1 million federal grant toward ongoing cleanup efforts of an industrial site along French Creek in Meadville.
In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the grant for environmental cleanup of an 11-acre site along Bessemer Street. The site, which once was a maintenance facility for the former Erie Railroad, contains oil.
Owned by the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County (EPACC), the site is to be part of the French Creek Bessemer Trail Project, which was announced last summer by the group.
There is a multi-tiered plan to transform the general area along Bessemer Street and French Creek into a walking trail with other outdoor recreational uses as well as business potential.
The federal grant will fund the actual design, engineering and permitting needed for the oil cleanup, according to Jim Becker, the EPACC’s executive director.
Casey, a Democrat, has been supportive of the site cleanup — noting the project was one of only 10 across the country to get $1 million in funding.
Local officials have been able to demonstrate both an urgent need and a good plan for the site’s future, according to the senator.
“The people of Crawford County deserve this investment,” Casey said in brief remarks at the site.
“When they send their tax dollars to Washington or Harrisburg, they should have dollars come back to benefit them — especially when there’s a demonstrated need and a priority identified by the people of Crawford County,” he added.
Casey said funding for the project became available through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 which has provided money to revitalize communities suffering from economic and environmental hazards.
Casey called passage of the bill the first major infrastructure investment action by the government in about 75 years.
“This investment shouldn’t be unusual — an investment of once in 50 years or 75 years,” he said. “This should be more common — at least every 10 years.”
For too long, the federal government hasn’t heavily invested in cleanup projects or infrastructure projects like bridges or water or sewer improvements, according to the senator.
“Projects like this are not able to move forward without this infusion of federal dollars,” he said. “It’s difficult for communities to chart a bright future without investing in basic infrastructure.”
Requests for proposals for the cleanup are expected to be sought this fall, Becker told The Meadville Tribune. Engineering and design of the actual cleanup then is expected to take about a year and be drafted in 2024, he said.