Senate Transportation Committee meeting in Monroeville likely to address expressway
Friends and foes of the Mon/Fayette Expressway will have two forums this month.
One is the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast on May 17 at Westwood Golf Club.
State Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, announced the other, a Senate Transportation Committee hearing on May 30 at Community College of Allegheny County Boyce Campus in Monroeville.
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman is wondering why anyone still is talking about the highway, also known as Turnpike 43.
“It's every bit as absurd now as it ever was,” Fetterman said. “It is a cutting edge of economic development from 1967. It's outdated, it's inappropriate and it would be a tremendous waste of resources.”
The forums come amid consideration of a $2.5 billion plan by Gov. Tom Corbett's transportation advisory committee to upgrade infrastructure and mass transit. Advocates of Turnpike 43 hope it will provide a mechanism by which funding can be secured for the long-debated and delayed limited-access expressway.
Hearing organizers hope for an 11 a.m. start time on May 30 and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce blocked off 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for use of the campus auditorium.
“Sen. Brewster's office asked for our help in finding a location and getting the word out,” chamber president Frank Horrigan said.
“I went to (committee majority chairman) Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery County) and asked him if he could consider a hearing,” Brewster said Wednesday in an interview with The Daily News.
Rafferty told Brewster, a committee member, that he could schedule a hearing about various issues.
“We know that the Port Authority is a major issue in terms of funding,” Brewster said.
“Our membership has been telling us that they are interested in more robust bus service and that the cuts that happened in the last go round with (Port Authority) took a big bite out of this service in the eastern suburbs,” Horrigan said.
Fetterman said transportation policy should be directed toward shoring up existing resources, to light-rail transit and help for a Port Authority “that constantly is having near-death incidents.”
Senate Bill 1, Rafferty's interpretation of the governor's plan, received an initial thumbs up on Tuesday from Brewster and 12 other committee members, with the only no vote coming from Sen. Richard Kasunic, D-Dunbar Township.
Brewster is among 28 co-sponsors of SB 1. Others include committee minority chairman Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown; Senate president pro tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson County; and Sen. Timothy Solobay, D-Canonsburg.
“This is probably our generational chance to be able to affect infrastructure and transportation policy,” Horrigan said. “This is our chance to make a difference.”
Brewster expects PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, Wozniak and Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, to attend.
Brewster said Schoch “has been an incredible secretary. He has done a great job.”
Brewster expects Joe Kirk of the Mon Valley Progress Council will testify about Turnpike 43.
Brewster wants to see the expressway extended from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to the Parkway East (Interstate 376) in Monroeville and Wilkins Township.
Some expressway proponents also want to see the highway fork off and connect with I-376 in Hazelwood — a move that could affect Braddock and other communities along the Mon's north shore.
“How would you like a four-lane highway coming through your community?” Fetterman asked.
Horrigan stressed that he did not want to make a “guns or butter” choice between transit and the turnpike extension.
“The chamber's position is that we are in favor of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and we are in favor of a more built out, comprehensive surface transportation service out in the eastern suburbs of Allegheny County,” Horrigan said.
Fetterman said the expressway will cost $10 billion and take 25-30 years to complete.
“Think what $10 billion could do for the region as a whole,” the Braddock mayor said.
Fetterman remembers being able to get on a commuter train that used to link McKeesport and Braddock “and be in downtown Pittsburgh in 15 minutes.” He would like to see the East Busway extended from its present Rankin culmination point into Braddock.
Brewster sees the expressway as an economic generator that could be parlayed into jobs, but he's also interested in helping his constituents in Braddock, one of 38 municipalities in his 45th District.
“I am going to do everything I can to help the mayor and council to bring that borough back,” Brewster said. “I have the utmost respect for Mayor Fetterman. That is why we are having a hearing here.”
The May 30 hearing is open to the public.
Non-members must pay a $15 admission fee for the Mon Yough Area Chamber's May 17 breakfast.
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.
- Renzie Park projects top list of requests for RAD funding
- McKeesport Area schools to provide outreach activities
- Jamie’s Dream Team charity grateful for Pens funding
- West Mifflin Area boosts technology
- Homestead violence escalates with second day of shootings
- McKeesport’s Minerva Bakery gets spotlight in WQED special
- Elizabeth councilors take care of business
- Duquesne makes changes in, out of the classroom
- McKeesport church joins listings on national historic register
- Steel Valley district OKs contract with school secretaries and support staff
- North Versailles commissioners approve list of properties for demolition