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Mon Yough chamber drumming up support for expressway connection

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 4:01 a.m.

Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce hopes to show support for a Jefferson Hills-Parkway East Mon/Fayette Expressway connection at its annual legislative breakfast next week.

“For the first time in 15 years, comprehensive transportation legislation is being introduced in the state Senate that is expected to include monies for new highway construction,” the chamber told its supporters in an email Monday. “We need your presence and your voice to send our message back to Harrisburg to commit dollars to this important regional economic development investment.”

So far, 65 have made reservations for the May 17 event from 7-8:30 a.m. at Westwood Golf Club along Commonwealth Avenue in West Mifflin.

It's the same number as last year's turnout but, chamber president Maury Burgwin said Monday, “We would like to see a couple hundred, if not more.”

The scheduled keynote speaker is Toby Fauver, deputy PennDOT secretary for local and area transportation. Jon Delano, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University and KDKA-2 money and politics editor, will be master of ceremonies.

On April 16 in Harrisburg, “The Bridge to Pennsylvania's Future” was announced by the four state legislative transportation chairs as well as PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch.

Senate Transportation Majority Chairman John C. Rafferty Jr., R-Montgomery County, said the $2.5 billion plan follows major recommendations by Gov. Tom Corbett's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.

“Maintaining a safe and reliable transportation network is a core function of state government and necessary to a strong economy,” Rafferty said. “This funding proposal is an investment not only in our transportation infrastructure but in our state's future.”

Burgwin is hoping that investment may mean dollars to extend the expressway also known as Turnpike 43 from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills toward Route 837 in Duquesne and the Parkway (Interstate 376) in Monroeville and Wilkins Township.

“We are asking for them to allocate dollars for new highway construction,” Burgwin said. “We would like to have some of those dollars committed to at least a partial completion of the Mon/Fayette Expressway from Route 51 toward Monroeville.”Locally, Sens. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, and Timothy Solobay, D-Canonsburg, are part of the minority caucus on the Senate's transportation panel.

The chamber said Brewster is a scheduled panelist at the annual breakfast for a discussion covering “transportation issues important to the region including completion of the Mon/Fayette Expressway.”

Tickets for non-members are $15. Reservations are being taken in advance at the chamber's website or by calling 412-678-2450.

“This is so important that, if some were to walk through the door, they are welcome,” Burgwin said. “This is the best opportunity for our community to come out to speak as a single unified voice to the importance of the completion of this road.”

Other scheduled panelists are Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills; state Reps. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, and Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg; and U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967

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