Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cranberry -- Protectorate of the North

Continuing in a counter-clockwise direction around the compass, the next population center outside the city to highlight is Cranberry to the north. Cranberry exploded in population all throughout the 1990's, to the point that it was one of the top 10 growth areas in the United States.

Cranberry is located just over the border from Allegheny County, in Butler County's southwest corner, which is part of the allure for its population growth thanks to a much lower tax rate. It also sits at the point where the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) passes over Interstate 79. This provides great access for trucks to service the large amount of commercial and industrial businesses here, while also providing fantastic access to major roads for normal motorists. And by the way, Route 19 (leading to McKnight Road) and Route 228 also come through here, too.

All of this traffic, coupled with the volcanic increase in population, led Cranberry to experience terrible traffic. Within the past 7 or 8 years, though, PENNDOT and the Turnpike Commission have done some major projects to try and alleviate the mess. The Turnpike Connector allows vehicles on I-79 to go straight to I-76 without having to clog up Cranberry's roads. Additionally, the Cranberry toll booth was eliminated and replaced with a mainline massively wide toll station 3 miles outside of the original exit.

The interesting part of Cranberry is that the vast majority of the commercial and residential developments are located in the southern sector of the Township. There are huge swathes of land in the north and eastern part that remain rural farms or woodlands. It is conceivable that if the City of Butler continues to struggle and rot away on the vine that Cranberry Township could become the County seat within 50 years. The drawback to that would be that it would be located in the southwest corner of the County and not be geographically centered for the other residents of the County.

Cranberry Township is well run, with a fantastic manager overseeing the growth and development in Jerry Andree. They have a robust staff of senior officials in the Public Works and Engineering departments as well. Cranberry received a huge shot in the arm when Westinghouse relocated their entire corporate headquarters from Monroeville to Cranberry a couple of years ago.

Cranberry has better planning than the previous post of Monroeville, but it is still a sprawled out community. They do have a very impressive array of parks and speciality parks, plus their own municipally-owned golf course. They also have a "neo-traditional" neighborhood that pushed the homes closer to the road and closer together to encourage communication between neighbors.

Similar to all four municipalities that I'll be discussing, Cranberry is the kind of place that you can live, work, shop, and play all without leaving the community. It's not a perfect place, but it is a good place to set up shop while still having access to Pittsburgh (about 12 miles north of the city via I-279/I-79).

1 comment:

  1. Someone sounds like he has a bit of a man-crush on a certain Township manager/his staff. ;)

    Or perhaps it's penis envy....if a township were a penis?

    (Of course "Penis Township" would probably more like, I dunno maybe, Hampton.)