Major transportation improvement projects - including a $1.2 million project to address the traffic congestion at the intersection of Wolcott Hollow Road and U.S. Route 220 in Athens Township and a $4.7 million road that will link Route 17 to the Valley Business Park - are included in the Northern Tier Regional Transportation Improvement Program document for 2013 to 2016.

The creation of the document prioritizes the proposed major transportation improvement projects in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming counties, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The projects that are included in the document are the ones "that we anticipate taking place over the next four years," said Rick Mason, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

The document, which is currently in a draft form, is undergoing a 30-day public review period.

Unless public comments call for the reevaluation of the document, it will be forwarded to the State Transportation Commission for final approval, said Chris King, the district planning & program manager for PennDOT.

The document was proposed by the Northern Tier Regional Transportation Advisory Committee, which includes representation from the five counties, PennDOT, the Northern Tier Regional Planning & Development Commission, and additional agencies, such as EMTA.

The large majority of the projects in Bradford and Sullivan counties that are included in the document are aimed at maintaining those counties' existing networks of highways and bridges, such as the resurfacing of roads and the replacement of bridges.

Due to limitations on the amount of federal and state transportation dollars that are available, the advisory committee placed a lower priority on projects that would increase the capacity of the network, such as the creation of new roads or the widening of roads by the addition of lanes, said Brian Baker, the regional planning program manager for the Northern Tier Regional Planning & Development Commission.

"We're trying to keep things as (much) as we can in good shape," he said. One of the major priorities of the document is to replace structurally deficient bridges, which is in keeping with priorities that started in former Gov. Ed Rendell's administration and have continued into the Corbett administration, he said.

The project at the intersection of Wolcott Hollow Road and U.S. Route 220, which is located at Greens Landing in Athens Township, would include a traffic signal or "roundabout," King said.

Because federal dollars are included in the Greens Landing project, planners are required to evaluate the feasibility of installing a roundabout at the intersection, King said. A roundabout is a circular road that is smaller than a traditional traffic circle, he said. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to traffic that is already in the roundabout, he said.

"We've had a lot of testimony from the public who are interested in a traffic signal" at the intersection, King said.

None of the design work on the Greens Landing project has been done yet, but it is conceivable that, besides a traffic signal, there could be turning lanes created at the intersection, he said. According to the Northern Tier Regional TIP document, preliminary engineering for the Greens Landing project would take place in 2013, final design work would take place in 2014 and construction would take place in 2016.

It's estimated that the bids would be opened for the $4.7 million road from Route 17 to the Valley Business Park on July 1, 2013, with the construction of the road taking place later that year, according to the document. The road is known as "Road C."

Also included in the document is a $2.3 million project at the Route 6/Route 220 interchange in North Towanda Township that would reconstruct the deteriorated roadway on Route 6 near the interchange, Mason said.

The project would probably also lower the height of Route 6 to provide more clearance for vehicles on Route 6 as they travel underneath the Route 220 bridge, King said. The reconstruction at the interchange would take place in 2015 and 2016.

The Northern Tier TIP document does not include any major project to address the traffic congestion on Route 6 in the Towanda area, officials said.

A $194,000 state-funded traffic study is being conducted to address that congestion, and no project can be included in the Northern Tier TIP until after the study is completed, Baker said. The Northern Tier TIP is updated every two years, he said.

Copies of the draft Northern Tier Regional TIP document for 2013-2016 are available for public review at the county commissioners' offices in the five counties, at public libraries in the region, at state legislators' offices, at the Endless Mountains Transportation Authority office, and online at www.northerntier.org, according to a legal ad that was published in The Daily Review.

The 30-day public review and comment period on the document is running from June 1 to June 30. Written comments will be accepted on or before June 30 and can be mailed to Brian Baker, NTRPDC, 312 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848.

A public meeting on the 2013-2016 Northern Tier Regional Transportation Improvement Program will take place at 10 a.m. on July 9 at the Towanda Country Club in Wysox Township.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.