FINDLAY CONNECTOR OVERVIEW
Southern Beltway Project – Pa. Route 60 to U.S.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s
$240 million Findlay Connector opened for traffic at 3 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006, following a ribbon cutting ceremony
that included Governor Edward G. Rendell, state Senator J.
Barry Stout and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.
“This is a relatively small but critical piece of the
infrastructure puzzle that will better equip southwestern
Pennsylvania to compete for people and private investment,”
said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. “It brings a much-needed,
modern highway link to the Route 60 Expressway and our world-class
Pittsburgh International Airport.”
As an independent project with stand-alone
utility, the Findlay Connector substantially reduces travel
times to the airport corridor for trips originating in northern
Washington County and in the Weirton, W.Va./Steubenville,
Ohio area. This helps to ease congestion and enhance safety.
As a component of the proposed 32-mile
Southern Beltway, it will serve the Southpointe area, the
mid-Monongahela River Valley and even Monroeville and Pittsburgh’s
eastern suburbs as a new alternative route to the airport
and the Route 60 corridor extending north to Interstate 80
between Sharon and Mercer.
“Improved access and mobility will
bring new opportunities for jobs and personal growth to a
higher percentage of the region’s population,”
Brimmeier stated. “Ours and other infrastructure projects
make the Findlay Connector corridor as primed for development
as any location in Allegheny County and we believe the opening
of this highway will help unleash that potential.”
The interchange at the northern terminus of the Findlay Connector
provides direct access into and out of Pittsburgh International
Airport as well as a full choice of movements onto and off
of the Route 60 Expressway.
Altogether, construction of the Findlay
Connector involved 21 new bridges, more than 11.3 million
cubic yards of excavation (moving enough earth to fill PNC
Park 26 times), 313,300 square yards of new concrete pavement
and 101,400 feet of new drainage pipe.
Fare collection lanes are located at the
Route 22, Burgettstown/Bald Knob and Route 30 interchanges
(on the northbound on ramps and the southbound off ramps).
There is no mainline toll barrier on the Findlay Connector
because all traffic that uses the road will have to pass through
fare collection facilities on the aforementioned on and off
ramps. Fare collection lanes are equipped to process E-ZPass
One of the construction contracts ($886,351)
involved the creation of approximately 8.2 acres of replacement
wetlands on McConnell’s Hill Farm in Independence Township,
Beaver County by Shawrose, Inc. of Coraopolis. The Turnpike
has turned these replacement wetlands over to the Beaver County
Conservation District, which has an 18-acre wetlands site
about 1.5 miles away.
The Beaver County Conservation District
is a non-profit organization committed to the preservation
of natural resources and technical services to improve resource
Most of the land surrounding the new highway is abandoned
or reclaimed strip mines. The Findlay Connector Project proved
to be a catalyst for the construction of long-term treatment
systems for acid mine drainage affecting the Montour Run Watershed.
Initially, a $75,000 treatment system for
acidic drainage percolating from an abandoned underground
coal mine exposed during excavation work for the new roadway
has been constructed to help protect the water quality of
nearby Montour Run and the 37-square-mile Montour Run Watershed.
Representatives of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) and the Allegheny County Airport Authority announced
the completion of the treatment system at a media event held
September 2, 2004, near the Findlay Connector’s interchange
with U.S. Route 30.
“We are very pleased with the work
the Turnpike Commission has performed and, with the cooperation
of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, in the installation
of settling ponds located within the authority’s right-of-way,”
said Scott Roberts, DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Mineral
Resources. “We also are pleased with the commission’s
shared interest in seeing the discharge treated on a long-term
basis, which we will assist by funding the conversion of the
settling ponds into wetlands.”
On November 4, 2004, DEP awarded the Montour
Run Watershed Association a $300,367 Growing Greener grant
for the construction of a passive mine drainage treatment
system on the North Fork of Montour Run that will utilize
the sediment basins built for the Turnpike Commission’s
The permanent passive treatment system
for drainage leaching from the abandoned Clinton No. 1 Mine
will be built after the Findlay Connector is completed. It
is expected to remove approximately 19,000 pounds of acidity
and 6,000 pounds of metals annually from the North Fork of
Mashuda Corporation of Cranberry Township,
the general contractor for construction of the southern two-thirds
of the connector, blasted a drainage trench in the mine floor
and filled it with processed limestone. The company installed
a partially open drainpipe on top of the trench. The drainage
is directed through the limestone inside the trench to allow
the limestone to increase the alkalinity of the drainage and
cause the iron and aluminum to settle out.
Once it flows through the trench, the mine drainage goes into
the settling ponds where the metals continue to settle out.
The water is then discharged into the Montour Run tributary.
After about 20 to 25 years, DEP expects the limestone to be
fully coated with iron and aluminum and rendered ineffective.
At that point, the drainage will begin to flow on top of the
coated limestone and into the concrete drainage pipe, which
will then carry the discharge to wetlands that will be built
using the former settling ponds. The concrete itself will
help increase the alkalinity of the discharge.
Dick Corporation of Jefferson Hills built
the northern third of the Findlay Connector, including the
tie-ins to the Route 60 Expressway and Pittsburgh International
Construction management services were provided by McTish,
Kunkel & Associates/Raintree Consulting.