In spring 2001, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will open the
southernmost four miles of its 17-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway project that will
extend north from Interstate 70 in Fallowfield Township, Washington County to
Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson Hills Borough, Allegheny County.
Most of the project will remain under construction through late November 2001 because that’s when most of the general contractors are to finish their individual sections.
Construction contracts for the first four miles of the new
expressway north from I-70, including completion of a cloverleaf interchange
with I-70, were awarded prior to 1998 and are wrapping up earlier.
"This is a relatively short stretch of expressway but should serve the public well as a Charleroi bypass and an alternative to circuitous Route 88," said Turnpike Executive Director John T. Durbin. "It will provide a quick link to Mon City and key destinations such as Monongahela Valley Hospital and the Charleroi High School/Middle School campus."
One of the Turnpike’s construction contracts for the I-70-to-Route 51 Mon/Fayette Project involved widening a three-quarter-mile segment of Coyle Curtin Road from the expressway interchange to Route 88. An additional 11-foot travel lane will allow cars and small trucks to pass larger vehicles traveling uphill (northeast) from the expressway interchange to Route 88.
FEDS OK UNIONTOWN TO BROWNSVILLE STRETCH
In another key development relative to ongoing expansion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike system in the Pittsburgh region, another part of the evolving Mon/Fayette Expressway system between Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va. has cleared a critical environmental hurdle.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on Oct. 18, 2000, signed the Record of Decision for the 15-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Project from Uniontown to the Brownsville area.
FHWA’s action formally designates the selected alignment and allows the Turnpike to proceed with final design. Final design, including the drawing of formal right-of-way lines, is the detailed engineering necessary to move the project to construction. To date, funding is committed to complete final design and right-of-way acquisition but not construction.
The selected alignment runs north of and generally parallel to U.S. Route 40 from an interchange with Pa. Route 51 and U.S. Route 119 in North Union Township, Fayette County. Just east of Brownsville Borough, it crosses to the south of U.S. Route 40 in Luzerne Township and then crosses a new Monongahela River bridge to a northwest terminus at Pa. Route 88 in Centerville Borough, Washington County.
Both end points have direct links to existing north-south expressways that will serve as parts of the Mon/Fayette Expressway system. To the north, the Uniontown-to-Brownsville Area Project will feed into the six-mile Turnpike 43 in the California, which extends north to I-70. The connecting expressway to the south is the U.S. Route 119/Pa. Route 43 Uniontown Bypass. It feeds into the Pa. side of the Mon/Fayette’s Mason Dixon Link, which the Turnpike opened on March 1, 2000.
Between the end points, four interchanges will be built in Fayette County. They will be sited at a relocated Fan Hollow Road and a relocated Old Pittsburgh Road in North Union Township, at Searights Crossroads in Menallen Township, on a new Brownsville Connector in Redstone Township that would tie in to the "stub end" of the four-lane U.S. Route 40, and at a relocated State Route 4003 (Bull Run Road) in Luzerne Township.
The purpose of the project is to provide safer, more efficient vehicular travel between Uniontowen and the Brownsville area by improving access, addressing projected capacity requirements and drawing traffic (particularly trucks) off Route 40 and onto a modern facility. The project also is designed to support the efforts of the National Road Heritage Park, which are to make U.S. Route 40 less of a major transportation artery and more a local corridor and tourist destination.
By design year 2025, average daily traffic on the new expressway is projected to reach 11,000 vehicles while Route 40 traffic volumes that would average more than 20,000 vehicles daily without the expressway are projected at half that number.
The selected alignment will require an estimated 71 residential displacements and five commercial displacements. Almost all of residential units are owner-occupied and none of the residential structures that appear to fall within the right-of-way for the expressway contain more than two family units.
By early 2002, when the balance of the I-70-to-Route 51 Mon/Fayette Project should be ready for traffic, approximately 35 miles of the Mon/Fayette Expressway system will be operational. Ultimately, the system is to extend north to Interstate 376 in Pittsburgh and south to Interstate 68 near Morgantown, W.Va.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways is building the four miles of the Mon/Fayette system south of the Pennsylvania border. Its target date for completion is Spring 2003.
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