The Robert P. Casey Highway was designed to reduce congestion on Route 6 and other existing roadways in the Lackawanna Valley and to provide the northeastern part of Pennsylvania with direct access to the regional expressway system. The highway has shifted traffic away from the congested Route 6 (now called Business Route 6), and encouraged economic development in the highway corridor through the development of new industrial parks that have attracted private investment
Project Type:Limited Access Road Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:23,711 Length (mi):16.00
Economic Distress:1.20 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):456 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.28
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.97 Market Size:231,439 Airport Travel Distance:17.1667 Topography:16
Region:New England/Mid-Atlantic State:PA County:Lackawanna
City:Scranton Urban/Class Level:Mixed Local Area:Scranton
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:41.453051 / -75.574997
Initial Study Date:1992 Post Constr. Study Date:2001
Constr. Start Date:1993 Constr. End Date:1999
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1999 Planned Cost (YOE $):360,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):450,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):668,136,711
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||86.43||67.42||153.85|
|Output (in $M's)||245.75||191.68||437.43|
The Robert P. Casey Highway was designed to reduce congestion on Route 6 and other existing roadways in the Lackawanna Valley and to provide the northeastern part of Pennsylvania with direct access to the regional expressway system. Since its construction in 1999, the Casey Highway has shifted traffic away from the congested Route 6 (now called Business Route 6), and encouraged economic development in the highway corridor through the development of new industrial parks that have attracted private investment and created close to 2,000 jobs. The Casey Highway has also contributed to increased accessibility, encouraging the growth of the warehousing and distribution industry in the region. Commute times between the cities of Scranton to the south of the Lackawanna Valley and Carbondale to its north have also been reduced as a result of the highway.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Casey Highway runs along the eastern side of the Lackawanna Valley, connecting Interstates 81, 84, and 380 in Dunmore to U.S. Route 6 outside Carbondale. In addition to the highway itself, the project included the reconstruction of the adjoining I-81/84/380 interchange and additional lanes on I-81 south to the Central Scranton Expressway. The study area for the Casey Highway Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) comprises the twelve municipalities in the Lackawanna Valley, including Archbald, Blakely, Dickson City, Dunmore, Jermyn, Jessup, Mayfield, Olyphant, Throop Boroughs, Carbondale and Fell Townships, and the city of Carbondale. These communities combined had a population of about 65,000 in 2000. These
The majority of the Wilkes Barre/Scranton metropolitan area to the south of the Lackawanna Valley has been well-served by a network of limited-access, multi-lane highways, including Interstate 81, Interstate 84/380, the Northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Route 9), Route 309, US Route 11, and Route 29. However, the rest of the Lackawanna Valley, north of Scranton (from Dunmore to Carbondale) was under-served by the regional expressway system. Route 6,which ran north-south along the western side of the Valley, was the principal arterial highway and spine for the Valley's commercial development before the Casey Highway was built.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
A large proportion of the population of Lackawanna County (77%) lives in the middle third of the county, known as the Lackawanna Valley. With the development of coal-mining, the railroad industry, iron works, and textile mills, this rural area transformed into an urban area anchored on the south by the city of Scranton, and on the north by the city of Carbondale. With the decline of mining and related industries in the 1950s, the Valley went through an economic decline, exacerbated by a declining population, the high average age of the population, and a stagnant county-wide economy. Physical factors such as the steep topography of the region and the location of mines led to the concentration of development on the Valley floor and limited the region's accessibility to the regional expressway network. Data from 1980 showed that per-capita incomes and median home values in Lackawanna Valley were lower than the county average and the unemployment rate of 9.1% was higher then the county average of 8.3% and the national average of 6.5%.
Today, the region's economy is based on diversified manufacturing such as metal fabrication, corporate back-office and service industries, and warehousing and distribution. Several industrial parks and office parks have been established throughout Lackawanna County. Before the Casey Highway was built, most of the 12 municipalities in the valley already had densely developed business districts with residences surrounding the downtowns. Overall, about 85% of Lackawanna County's population can be described as urban and 15% rural.
The Casey Highway or the Lackawanna Valley Industrial Highway, as originally named, is an approximately 16-mile long, four-lane, limited-access highway from Interstate 81 in Dunmore to U.S. Route 6 in Carbondale in Lackawanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania. Route 6 was the principal arterial highway and spine for Lackawanna Valley's commercial development and for commute trips to employment centers outside the valley. The Casey Highway, built at a cost of $450 million in 1999, was designed to reduce traffic congestion on the existing Route 6 and other roadways in the valley, as well as to improve connectivity with the regional expressway network.
According to the FEIS, the purpose of the project was to fulfill four major needs: (1) improve infrastructure and access for economic development in Lackawanna Valley, i.e. attract new businesses and retain those already located in the study area, (2) improve traffic flow conditions and reduce peak hour congestion on U.S. Route 6 and other roads in the Valley, (3) improve traffic safety conditions on U.S. Route 6 and other roads in the Valley, and (4) improve emergency vehicle access and response time by reducing congestion.
The Casey Highway was named after Governor Robert Casey, who designated the Lackawanna Valley as a priority region, due to the economic redevelopment needs of the area. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation identified the Casey Highway as a priority project, requesting special effort among all involved State, Federal, and local agencies for coordination to complete the extensive environmental review requirements.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The Casey Highway shifted traffic away from and reduced congestion on Route 6. Route 6 had traffic volumes in the low 40,000s before the Casey Highway was built. Today, it carries about 23,000 vehicles a day. Traffic volumes on the Casey Highway have steadily increased since it was built and this increase is expected to continue as more industrial parks are built and more businesses move to the area. At the heaviest commute times, the westernmost sections accommodate up to 25,000 vehicles a day, with about 85% commuter vehicles and 15% trucks. The highway has reduced commute times between Scranton and Carbondale.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Before the Casey Highway was built, the existing industrial development was concentrated in the southern half of the highway study area, due to proximity to the City of Scranton and the accessibility advantages offered by Interstates 81 and 84/380 and the North Scranton Expressway. The northern half of the study area was more remote from Scranton and had limited access, primarily via US Route 6. At that time, two key industrial parks existed in the Lackawanna Valley: the Keystone Industrial park and the Mid-Valley Industrial Park, along with a few smaller developments. Commercial development was mainly of two types. Several small retail facilities were located in Dunmore and on Main Street in Blakely, and larger commercial retail establishments were located along Route 6 in Dickson City and Blakely. In total, there were 667,900 square feet of existing industrial development in the Casey Highway study area in 1992 and 465,900 square feet of commercial development.
The analysis of secondary impacts completed as part of the FEIS estimated that the highway would generate 9,000 additional jobs, $180 million in additional income per year (in 1992 dollars), 5% increase in real estate taxes, and 25% increase in municipal real estate taxes under the "minimum development" scenario, by the year 2018. Under the "maximum development" scenario, 14,000 new jobs, $280 million in additional income per year, 20% increase in county real estate taxes, and 90% increase in municipal real estate taxes would be generated. The Casey Highway, along with the two additional interchanges, improved access to the two existing industrial parks and opened up new sites for industrial development.
After the highway was built, in 2001, the Scranton-Lackawanna Industrial Building Company (SLIBCO), the non-profit economic development arm of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, developed the Jessup Small Business Center and the Valley View Business Park (Phase I). These industrial parks created over 995,000 square feet of space and brought in $102 million of private investment. In total, these two industrial parks developed and two parks developed by private businesses, have resulted in 2.14 million square feet of new space, effectively tripling the square footage available before the Casey Highway was built. In addition, the movement of businesses to these parks had created 1,940 new jobs by 2009. These jobs would not have been created without the Casey Highway. The types of businesses that have located in these parks primarily include manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, and construction companies.
The rate of job growth, however, currently appears to be slower than that predicted in the FEIS. With the completion of Phase II of SLIBCO's Valley View Business Park in 2010, about 400 more jobs are expected to be added. The businesses that have located along the Casey Highway are either new or have relocated from other parts of the country, most notably from New York and New Jersey. There has not been much relocation from other counties within Pennsylvania.
Due to the improved transportation access, in 2007, distribution and logistics leader McLane Company Inc. set up its $60 million facility in one of the industrial parks located along the Casey Highway and is expected to generate about 500 new jobs in the region. Tucker Rocky, a firm that sells more than 75,000 items for street and off-road motorcycles, ATV's, snowmobiles and personal watercraft to retail dealers throughout the world, moved into a 110,000-square-foot-distribution facility in 2004. The new location enables the company to provide next-day transit to Northeast and Mid-Atlantic customers.
Five factors are said to have attracted economic development to the Lackawanna Valley in recent years: (1) advantages offered by proximity to markets in the New York/New Jersey areas, bolstered by the improved transportation access; (2) availability of skilled, experienced labor; (3) lower costs of doing business; (4) state and local economic incentives and financing opportunities for businesses; and (5) good quality of life offered by good school districts, strong, stable neighborhoods, low crime, and availability of cheap land.
The state of Pennsylvania has been providing location-related tax incentives to businesses in the form of Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZs), set to expire at the end of 2010 and Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zones (KOEZs), set to expire in 2014. Extensions have now been approved for KOZs up to 2017 and for KOEZs up to 2020. The industrial parks built by SLIBCO in the Casey Highway Corridor include several of these KOZs and KOEZs that required approval from the three taxing bodies ? the county, the boroughs or municipalities, and the school districts. In 2009, fifteen new KOEZs have been approved for the Lackawanna Valley that will be active until 2020 and this is expected to draw more businesses to the area. This incentive strongly complements the increased access provided by the highway.
The Governor's Office for Economic Development in Pennsylvania has also provided economic development grants for worker training in new industries and the state of Pennsylvania has provided funding for construction of the infrastructure that has facilitated the development of the industrial parks.
There is some evidence that there has not been further reduction in population and jobs in the years after the Casey Highway was completed. The region has, however, seen some job losses during the current economic crisis (2008-2009). A major manufacturer of CDs and DVDs and one of the largest employers in the region, Cinram Manufacturing, cut 200 jobs in March 2009.
The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce
Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission
Assessor’s Office, Lackawanna County
Case Study Developed by ICF International