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More Federal Money Announced
for Mon/Fayette Expressway

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has earmarked another $7 million to help advance the Mon/Fayette Expressway. The amount includes $4 million to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for Mon/Fayette Expressway construction in Washington and Allegheny counties and $3 million to help West Virginia build in Monongalia County, from Interstate 68 north to the Pennsylvania border.

Nearly $56 million in federal funds have been committed to help the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the West Virginia Department of Transportation develop the Mon/Fayette Expressway. Two previous commitments were for development of the expressway in Pennsylvania. They included $23.8 million from the 1991 U.S. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and $25 million authorized for High Priority Projects in ISTEA’s "successor," the six-year Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) that was signed into law on June 9, 1998.

TEA-21 designated the Mon/Fayette Expressway as well as the Turnpike Commission’s Southern Beltway as "high priority corridors," making them eligible to compete on an annual basis for FHWA discretionary grant awards.

New Mon/Fayette Expressway Will Feature Highest Span onTurnpike System

While famous for its tunnels, some of which were started in the 1880's for a rail line that never materialized, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is becoming home to some of the most striking bridges on the National Highway System.

The Turnpike Commission in May contracted for more Mon/Fayette Expressway construction in Washington County, including what will be the highest bridges on the Pennsylvania Turnpike system. These dual, steel-girder spans, to sit atop tulip-shaped concrete piers and abutments towering over Mingo Creek and Pa. Route 88 near Ringgold High School, will be built under terms of a $49.1 million contract awarded to Dick Corporation of Pittsburgh.

Primarily in Union Township, they will carry the surface of their concrete decks 252 feet above Mingo Creek and cross over an active Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad trestle by about 50 feet. Their height will surpass by 62 feet the Turnpike's current elevation champ - a bridge that carries the northbound lanes of the Turnpike's Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) over Hawk Falls at milepost 68.6 in Carbon County.

The new Mon/Fayette Expressway bridge that will carry the southbound lanes will be the third-longest on the Turnpike system at about 2,500 feet. Interstate 276's Delaware River Bridge is the longest at 6,571 feet. Second-longest is the Susquehanna River Bridge at milepost 245.7, carrying Interstate 76 across the York-Dauphin County line.

The 1.5-mile construction section that includes the soon-to-be highest Turnpike bridges is part of the 17-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Project that will link Interstate 70 in Fallowfield Township, Washington County with Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson Hills Borough, Allegheny County. It includes nine dual bridges, not counting bridges that will elevate the Expressway at interchanges or carry side roads over the Mon/Fayette.

When the 17-mile project opens, probably in spring 2002, it also will boast the second-highest, third-highest and fourth-highest bridges on the Turnpike system. At present, second-highest is Interstate 76's Beaver River Bridge in Beaver County at 170 feet. It is located 13.2 miles into Pennsylvania from the Ohio line. The Delaware River Bridge from Pennsylvania into New Jersey is third-highest at 160 feet.

They will be surpassed in height by three other dual bridges, also in Washington County, on the Mon/Fayette Expressway from Interstate 70 to Pa. Route 51. One, in Fallowfield Township, is 205 feet up. The two others are in Carroll Township. One is 195 feet high. The other is 180 feet high.

The eight-mile Pennsylvania leg of the Mon/Fayette Expressway's Mason Dixon Link in Fayette County, south of Uniontown, does not include any comparable spans. The highest Turnpike bridges on the Mason Dixon Link, which will open late this year, are 66 feet.

Prospective alignments for two other Mon/Fayette Expressway projects remain under study. One is from Uniontown to the Brownsville area and includes a new bridge over the Monongahela River south of Brownsville. The other is the Pittsburgh Link, which is to extend north from Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to connections with Interstate 376 in the City and near Monroeville. The Pittsburgh Link is likely to include at least one new Mon/Fayette River bridge.

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