$1.2 million state investment in Toll Route 66 hailed by Elliott Group
A $1.2 million state investment in modifications to the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass has ended a “navigational nightmare” for trucks hauling gigantic compressors and turbines built at the Elliott Group in Jeannette, Michael T. Storms, the plant's director of operations, said Monday.
“The improvements have really helped us. ... We no longer have to get state police to shut down the northbound lanes so we can drive southbound (to access the turnpike). We had to do that for a lot of years,” Storms said.
Officials from Elliott, state Department of Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, Turnpike Commission Chief Executive Officer Mark Compton and others gathered at Toll Route 66 South Mainline Toll plaza to celebrate the completion of the project that was announced in September 2016 and finished this fall.
Davin said the project was a collaboration of government and private industry for a solution to benefit both business and commuters without having to close down roadways. The Elliott plant employs more than 1,000.
Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Elliott had received approval for more than $1.1 million in Transportation Infrastructure Investment Funds, or TIIF, after a feasibility study completed by the turnpike commission identified the most cost-effective alternatives to accommodating “super loads” coming from the company's facility in nearby Jeannette.
Super loads weigh 250,000 pounds and up, Storms said, and Elliott ships about 25 of those annually.
“And you know that this project also opens up this entire corridor for super-load trucks from other industries as well. There are a lot of very large trucks involved in the shale gas industry locally,” Storms said.
About $410,000 in improvements were made at the Turnpike 66 South Mainline Toll Plaza and $730,000 in improvements at the Route 130 northbound off ramp (Exit 8) on Turnpike 66, which is commonly referred to as the Greensburg Bypass.
Turnpike officials said modification at the Mainline Toll Plaza included removing a portion of the overhead canopy as well as doing minor roadway reconstruction and widening to accommodate super-load traffic exclusively. Officials said some toll lanes at both plazas used by the trucks increased from 10 to 22 feet in width.
The TIIF program is administered in cooperation with the PennDOT and the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.