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Contact: Lowman S. Henry (717) 939-9551 Ext. # 2934 March 14, 1997
TURNPIKE INVESTMENT IN MON-FAYETTE EXPRESSWAY &
SOUTHERN BELTWAY PROJECTS TOPS 127 MILLION DOLLARS
Harrisburg -- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's investment in the Mon-
Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects in southwestern Pennsylvania
topped the $127 million mark in 1996 as spending on the Mon-Fayette Expressway
projects hit $116,443,837.00 and another $11,212,962.00 was invested in the
Southern Beltway. Spending will take a quantum leap forward this year as the
Turnpike prepares to open bids for an estimated $212 million in construction projects
for the Mon-Fayette Expressway in Fayette and Washington counties.
In 1985, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 61 which directed the
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to study and build a number of highway projects,
including the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the Southern Beltway. Through November
of 1996, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has expended $116,443,837.00 on
the five component projects of the Mon-Fayette Expressway. Another $15 million in
contracts have already also awarded.
The largest single expenditure, $63,369,892.00 has been spent on the I-70 to
Route 51 project. An additional $34,396,550.00 has been spent on the West Virginia
to Uniontown project. Included in those amounts is $13 million in rights-of-way
acquisitions. An additional $800,000 in right-of-way is scheduled for approval by
Turnpike Commissioners next week. The Turnpike has also awarded $15 million in
additional contracts for those two projects and expects to award another $212 million
in contracts this calendar year. A total of $7,186,564.00 was spent on the Route 40
to I-70 project, known as the California Bypass, which is now open to traffic.
Turnpike planners have spent $6,220,416.00 conducting environmental impact
studies on the Route 51 to Pittsburgh project and another $5,270,415.00 on studies
for the Uniontown to Brownsville project. Environmental Impact Studies must be
completed and submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for approval
before that agency will issue a Record of Decision authorizing the Turnpike to advance
the projects into the building phase. When completed, the Mon-Fayette Expressway
will connect I-68 in West Virginia with I-376 in Pittsburgh.
An additional $11,212,962.00 has been spent on planning for the proposed
Southern Beltway. The Southern Beltway will extend from the Greater Pittsburgh
International Airport south into Washington County and connect with the Mon-Fayette
Altogether, Turnpike spending on the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern
Beltway projects totals $127,656,799.00. However, an additional $1.7 billion in
funding must be identified in order for all the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern
Beltway projects to be successfully completed.
"Our goal over the next four years is to complete 25 miles of Mon-Fayette
Expressway between West Virginia and Uniontown and between Interstate 70 and
Route 51 as well as to receive approval for environmental projects, including preferred
alignments for the balance of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the entire 30-mile
Southern Beltway," said Turnpike Executive Director John T. Durbin.
Durbin added the Turnpike is more than $90 million short of the funds it needs
to complete the West Virginia to Uniontown and I-70 to Route 51 projects. "We need
to secure additional sources of revenue for these projects because there are major
improvements which need to be made on the existing main line of the Turnpike,"
The Turnpike is seeking $500 million in federal funding from Congress as part
of the reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).
Revenue from a potential hike in state gasoline taxes is another possible source of
income to complete the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects.
"The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is committed to moving forward on
these projects as far and as fast as money will allow," Durbin concluded. "As always
we will continue to do our part in improving Pennsylvania's transportation
P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676 Phone: (717) 939-9551 Fax: (717) 986-9649