MONACA (KDKA) — The Midway Bar and Grill has served up a great hand-battered Atlantic cod sandwich for generations, but while its patrons are bound to miss it, the fact that the Midway may be closing is actually good news to owner Don Davis.

“It’s going to be great for the area,” said Davis. “It’s going to be great for me. I get to retire.”

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Shell Oil has an option to buy the Midway, as well as Cubbyhole Self Storage in anticipation of tearing them down and demolishing the adjoining Horsehead Zinc smelting plants for a sprawling $2.5 billion petrochemical plant called a cracker.

It would be the biggest, boldest statement yet that natural gas exploration is bringing industry back to southwestern Pennsylvania.

“They got a lot of excited people around this valley, I’ll tell you that. That’s all anyone talks about, Shell coming and making a big difference to us,” said Davis.

But will it come?

Since taking the option on the Horsehead property two years ago, Shell has been tight-lipped, but the oil giant has taken several steps lately indicating the project is moving forward.

In addition to acquisition talks with these and other property owners, Shell has studied changes to the 376 Interchange and is in talks with PennDOT about moving Route 18 for better access to the site.

“We’ve been seeing them doing the surveying on the road and they’re heading up to the mall. All the signs are there that they’re going to build the plant,” Chris Cox, of Moon Township, said.

There are other signs as well.

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Shell has lined up agreements with other natural gas suppliers to supply the plant and has a team of 70-odd workers on site doing environmental and construction evaluations.

In the coming months, Horsehead will begin demolition on the site at Shell’s expense.

“We have facilities around edges that will help Shell get a head start on their project if they decide to exercise the option,” said Ali Alavi, of the Horsehead Corporation.

State Sen. Elder Vogel says he has every reason to believe it’s a go.

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “You can’t imagine them doing all this work and spending this kind of money and not building this cracker plant?”

Vogel: “No, it would be unfathomable to me. For them to spend this kind of money, I’m sure they’ve spent millions and millions of dollars.”

Is Shell greenlighting this project or is the oil giant just spending all of this money to do its due diligence?

Folks in the Ohio Valley hope it’s the former and they hope there is an announcement very soon.

More Reports on the Shell Oil Cracker Plant
More Reports by Andy Sheehan

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