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TMCNet:  Shell buys another property near proposed cracker plant [Beaver County Times, Pa. :: ]

[March 11, 2014]

Shell buys another property near proposed cracker plant [Beaver County Times, Pa. :: ]

(Beaver County Times (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 11--Editor's note: This story was corrected March 11 to reflect the property Shell Oil Co. purchased Dec. 18 was owned by Gay's American Hardware, Inc. on Route 18. It incorrectly appeared in Tuesday's paper.


------ POTTER TWP. -- Shell Oil Co. has purchased another property near its proposed $2.5 billion petrochemical plant in Potter Township -- one that has been an area staple for 23 years.

Gay Shinaberry, longtime owner of Cubby Hole Self Storage at 351 Frankfort Road, confirmed Thursday that he had sold his property to Shell Oil Co. and the business was in the process of closing.

"I understand that they're going to use my facility for storage during construction (of the cracker) plant, but I don't know for sure," he said, of the storage facility he has owned for 23 years. According to the Beaver County Property Assessment Records, the 5.49 acre property sold for $1.87 million.

Shell also bought another piece of property in the area. On Dec. 18, the oil and gas company paid $1.87 million for a nearly 5.5-acre parcel owned by Gay's American Hardware, Inc. on Route 18 near Horsehead. Another landowner near the proposed cracker plant site who spoke on the condition of anonymity said in December they had also been approached by Shell regarding purchase and were interested in selling.

"Shell has been in contact with a limited number of landowners around the site in Beaver County that is currently under evaluation for the potential development of a petrochemical complex," Shell officials said in a previous statement. The company did not offer any new information regarding property sales around the site, due to a company-wide blackout period.

PennDOT also confirmed they had been working with Shell late last year regarding redevelopment of the site of the proposed plant, including a traffic impact study regarding changes to both Route 18 and Interstate 376. The study, conducted by Jacobs Engineering Group, was submitted to the agency in November.

The 1.5 mile project would add six temporary lanes of traffic plus one turning lane during peak construction of the cracker plant, said PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan. After construction, the road would be reduced to four permanent lanes with paved shoulders, and one turning lane, he said. Route 18 would also be moved about 1,000 feet south.

The updates to Route 18 and I-376 will be completed in 2018, the study says. It also projects that the proposed cracker plant would employ up to 8,000 workers during peak construction period and about 800 employees once it's completed.

In anticipation of these 8,000 workers, it also proposed the following changes to roadways during peak construction time to allow for these 8,000 workers to arrive and depart over a three hour shift change: Reconfiguring the I-376 East off-ramps to end at a new intersection with a stoplight at Route 18; installing a stoplight and widening the I-376 West off-ramp; building a new direct on-ramp from Route 18 North to I-376 East; and reconfiguring and widening Route 18 to the south and east.

Once construction is over, the study says, Route 18 and I-376 will be converted to its permanent state, which includes the aforementioned four lanes with paved shoulders and one turning lane, as well as permanent traffic lights at the I-376 East and West off-ramps.

The study also estimated that about 120 trucks will travel along Route 18 daily once the facility is fully operational.

Shell Oil Co. officials didn't offer comment on when the Route 18 project would begin, how much the project would cost and if it will displace any homeowners or businesses, due to that same company-wide blackout period.

They did, however, say in previous statements that the rerouting of Route 18 will happen if the cracker plant becomes a reality --2 and that it would be paid for by Shell.

"In July, Shell was invited to attend a regularly scheduled Pittsburgh Regional Alliance meeting with local officials to provide a project update," said Shell spokesman Michael Marr. " At that time, officials were notified that in the event the proposed petrochemical complex project moves forward, a section of state Highway 18 would need to be re-routed, improved and widened at Shell's expense. The highway presently passes directly through the proposed site. The change would move Highway 18 to the southern edge of the proposed site enhancing community safety and improving highway access." Marr also said that the potential rerouting of Route 18 is still in "the preliminary evaluation stage," but that Shell was working closely with PennDOT on this effort.

Shell Oil Co. has not yet made a final decision regarding whether they will build their proposed plant on the Potter site. In December, the company signed its third land option extension with Horsehead Corp., and said it would likely be the last extension granted.

___ (c)2014 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) Visit the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) at www.timesonline.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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