Mon/Fayette Expressway advocates optimistic
Advocates of moving the Mon/Fayette Expressway north of Route 51 see hope in legislation setting aside funds for new infrastructure.
“There is strong possibility that the Turnpike Commission could use a portion of that set-aside to advance some part of the 51-to-Pittsburgh expressway project,” Mon Valley Progress Council executive director Joe Kirk said.
Foes such as Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future or PennFuture see other priorities.
“We have a huge transportation challenge for the state of Pennsylvania with our existing roads and bridges,” PennFuture president George Jugovic Jr. said. “That would not include building a highway through the Mon/Fayette communities.”
An area lawmaker sees Mon/Fayette or Turnpike 43 as a part of an overall plan.
“We must find real dollars to build roads, bridges and pay for mass transit because these are important to our economy and job creation,” Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, told the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 6.
“Finding dollars to complete work on the Mon/Fayette and ensuring that our mass transit systems are supported must be a focus of the funding package,” he said.
In Gov. Tom Corbett's plan for transportation funding, $85 million would be added each year, part of it to complete Act 61 of 1985 projects.
Kirk said it could be leveraged through bonding and public-private partnerships to accelerate construction.
Much attention is being given to the Southern Beltway, which would link Turnpike 43 at Finleyville with Turnpike 576 near Imperial and Pittsburgh International Airport.
Act 61 also raised the priority of Turnpike 43, including a stretch still estimated at $4 billion between Route 51 in Jefferson Hills and Interstate 376 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway) at Second Avenue in Pittsburgh and Business 22 in Wilkins Township and Monroeville.
The highway would cross the Monongahela River near Kennywood Park and break off in two directions.
“You look at what Kennywood has been doing in terms of investments at their site,” Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce president Maury Burgwin said. “If they can get that road, it turns Kennywood into a national entertainment destination.”
The rest of that $85 million would match PennDOT funding of potential slip ramp connections or interchanges that take EZPass toll payments. Earlier this month Kirk was the guest speaker at a Mon Yough Area Chamber meeting.
“We sit on some of the largest tracts of developable industrial and commercial properties on any riverfront in the eastern United States,” Burgwin said. “That road would be a catalyst to humongous new business investment in this region, and jobs.”
PennFuture long has disagreed. In “Transportation Planning: Beyond the Mon/Fayette Toll Road,” it said “independent analyses have demonstrated that the purported benefits to the one-size-fits-all project don't come close to justifying the costs.”
Jugovic sees a multi-modal mix from bicycle and hiking trails “to transportation corridors that allow traffic to move smoothly and can carry up to four lanes of traffic but not obliterate businesses.”
Kirk sees the expressway extending the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway that now ends at the Rankin Bridge.
“It could have a very positive multi modal impact,” the Mon Valley Progress Council director said.
Kirk said the concept of a toll road from Route 51 to Pittsburgh “met federal standards for environmental and traffic concerns.” He said it “will provide access to nine major brownfield sites (and) improve access to communities up and down the Mon Valley.”
Kirk said he does not see any impact on Turnpike 43 efforts from recent state grand jury indictments, including those of former Senate Minority Leader Robert Mellow, D-Scranton, former Turnpike Commission CEO Joseph Brimmeier and former turnpike employee Raymond Zajicek of Liberty.
“There is an entirely new leadership team at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission,” Kirk said. “They are basically reviewing all contracting procedures ... to assure that there is no relationship between political contributions and the awarding of contracts.”
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Homestead to offer select free-parking days during holiday season
- Kennywood Holiday Lights festival returns for 5th year
- North Versailles’ Dance Company’s ‘Nutcracker’ expands with bonus program for students
- Salvation Army kettle drive about to kick into high gear in Western Pennsylvania
- Model train exhibit raises funds for McKeesport club
- McKeesport Area could bring back Air Force Junior ROTC program
- Clairton City School District wins award for its anti-hunger efforts
- Elizabeth council OKs Act 537 resolution for municipal authority
- Suspect in Glassport man’s shooting death put on house arrest