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Community Day to mark opening of Expressway

| Friday, April 5, 2002

Before it opens to traffic next week, area residents will get a sneak preview of a section of the Mon/Fayette Expressway that runs through the Mid-Mon Valley.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will host a "Community Day" on the new section of the toll road Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The public will have an opportunity to check out the road between Coyle Curtin Road in Fallowfield Township and Route 51 in Large before it opens to vehicular traffic following formal dedication ceremonies April 12.

With the opening of the new section, approximately half of the 70 miles of expressway will be open to traffic. About 65 miles of the limited-access highway would be in Pennsylvania with the West Virginia Department of Transportation currently planning construction of the highway to Interstate 68 near Cheat Lake.

Joe Agnello, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, said the open house is a relatively new concept for introducing the public to a new highway. The Turnpike Commission also held such an event in October 1999, about five months before the section of expressway between Uniontown and the Pennsylvania/West Virginia state line was opened to traffic.

"There's a lot to see on this road," said Agnello. "The views are spectacular. We thought we'd give the public an opportunity before its open to traffic to see how spectacular the view is."

Sunday's event is open to walkers, bikers and skaters. No motor vehicles will be permitted.

Access will be provided via on-ramps at four interchanges, including Coyle Curtin Road (northbound on-ramp), Route 136 near Ringgold High School (northbound on-ramp), Finleyville-Elrama Road (northbound on-ramp), and from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills via Jefferson Boulevard.

Workers will be stationed at each of the access points to control parking.

Tour buses will operate in the southbound lanes.

Central activities will be at the mainline toll plaza approximately one mile south of Route 51. These activities will include miniature train rides for children, several refreshment stands and a man creating balloon animals. An overhead walkway at the mainline toll plaza will give the public an overhead view of the highway.

No motor vehicles will be permitted on the expressway mainline during Community Day unless specifically authorized by the Turnpike Commission.

However, bus tours operating in the southbound lanes will shuttle residents along the highway. Pick-up points for the buses will include the four interchanges as well as the dual bridges carrying the expressway over Route 88 in Finleyville and at the mainline toll plaza in Jefferson Hills.

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