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Southern Beltway contract awarded

| Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2003

Construction of the highway that will one day connect the Pittsburgh International Airport to the Mon/Fayette Expressway could begin before Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission awarded a $64.9 million bid to Dick Corp., of Large, for a 1.4-mile section near the airport. It is one of three contracts to be awarded on the Findlay Connector section of the beltway.

The project is costly because it will entail construction of seven new bridges, widening of one existing bridge and completion of the Route 60 interchange with Moon/Clinton Road.

The connector is one of three main sections of the beltway, a 30- to 35-mile highway that would connect the airport area with the expressway near Route 88 in Union Township.

The connector is a six-mile section that would run from Route 60 at the airport to U.S. 22 in Robinson Township. The two remaining construction bids for the connector are expected to be awarded by early 2004. Construction is slated for completion in mid-2006.

The connector will provide direct access in and out of the airport, with access on and off Route 60 at the project's northern end.

McTish, Kunkel & Associates, of Allentown, was hired in April to serve as the construction manager, which will oversee work for the $221 million connector project.

Unlike the Mon/Fayette Expressway, development of the Southern Beltway is beginning at the northernmost portion of the project.

The next section of the beltway to be developed will run from U.S. Route 22 to Interstate 79. A public hearing will be held in February. An Environmental Impact Statement should be circulated in April 2004. A record of decision could come as early as mid-2004. Money is available through the record of decision stage.

A public hearing is scheduled in June concerning the I-79-to-Mon/Fayette section of the Southern Beltway with the final environmental impact statement to be circulated by December 2004. A record of decision could come as early as March 2005.

The two remaining sections will be at least 12 to 14 miles, depending upon final alignment.

Construction of the other two sections is at least five years away. No money has been allocated for final design and right-of-way acquisition. Construction of both the Route 22-to-Interstate 79, and Interstate 79-to-Mon/Fayette sections will take four to five years to construct.

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