Kathy Liebler

Manager, Public Affairs & Media Relations

C  O  M  M  I  S  S  I  O  N       N  E  W  S       R  E  L  E  A  S  E


Joe Agnello, 724-755-5262,  (724) 755-5142 fax
email:  jagnello@paturnpike.com

March 21, 2002



The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will open at 3 pm Friday, April 12 the Mon/Fayette Expressway north from Coyle Curtin Road near the City of Monongahela in Washington County to Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson Hills Borough, Allegheny County.

This will create the longest continuous stretch of the growing Mon/Fayette Expressway system (Turnpike 43) in southwestern Pennsylvania – approximately 24 miles extending north from Pa. Route 88 in Centerville Borough to the California Toll Road and northward beyond Interstate 70 into Allegheny County. 

Ultimately, the Mon/Fayette system is to measure some 70 miles north from Interstate 68 near Morgantown, W.Va., through the Uniontown and Brownsville areas and the Monongahela River Valley to Interstate 376 in Pittsburgh and Monroeville. Roughly half of the 70 miles, including about 10 miles built by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), is completed.  

The 13-mile piece to open on April 12 is part of the 17-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway Project between Interstate 70 and the California Toll Road to Route 51. The first four miles, north from I-70 to the Donora/Charleroi interchange at Coyle Curtin Road, opened on May 11, 2001.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies will be held at 11 am above Route 51, near the southern end of dual bridges linking the expressway’s southbound on-ramp and northbound off-ramp to a new Route 51 connector road known as Jefferson Boulevard. The day’s events will have a military theme and will include special recognition of 13 Medal of Honor recipients from the Mon/Fayette corridor between Pittsburgh and the West Virginia border.

A sign noting the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s naming of the Washington County portion of the project for state Senator J. Barry Stout of Bentleyville will be unveiled during a separate ceremony at 10 am along the northbound lanes at the Coyle Curtin interchange (Exit 39). A military convoy will then lead a procession north to the ribbon cutting sites in Jefferson Hills.

Senator Stout has served in the Pennsylvania Senate since June 1977 and remains a key advocate of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee. He played a leading role in establishing the two streams of state funding - a share of the Pennsylvania Oil Company Franchise Tax and a share of the Commonwealth’s vehicle registration revenues - that have helped generate some $1.4 billion for the Mon/Fayette and Southern Beltway projects.         

An open house “Community Day” on the new highway will be held from 11 am to 5 pm Sunday, April 7. Folks will be able to walk, bicycle and skate on the road, or take free bus tours of the entire 13 miles that have not yet opened for traffic.

The Class I (two-axle) fare for the segment from I-70 to Coyle Curtin Road is 50 cents. A 50-cent fare also has been set for Class I traffic passing through fare collection at either of the two other interchanges (Pa. Route 136, signed as Monongahela/Eighty Four); and (Finleyville-Elrama Road, signed as Finleyville/West Elizabeth) where fare collection will occur.

Other fares at the ramps are $1 for Class 2 (three axles), $1.50 for Class 3 (four axles), $2 for Class 4 (five-axles) and $2.50 for Class 5 (six axles).

Dual-height, automated fare collection equipment will be utilized at all fare collection points on the I-70 to Route 51 project. Equipment will accept $1 and $5 bills, coins, and PTC commercial cards, and will issue change and receipts.

At the ramp plazas, fares will be collected only from motorists exiting the northbound lanes or entering the southbound lanes.

Vehicles that do not pass through fare collection at an interchange will pass through a mainline toll plaza located approximately one mile south of the Route 51 interchange. The Class I fare there is $1. It’s $2 for Class 2, $3 for Class 3, $4 for Class 4 and $5 for Class 5.

A new fare schedule at the mainline toll plaza on the six-mile California Toll Road, the oldest part of the Mon/Fayette system, will take effect at 3 pm Friday, April 12.

Class 1 fare will be 75 cents, up from 50 cents. Class 2 will be $1.50, up from $1. Class 3 will be $2.25, up from $1.50. Class 4 will be $3, up from $2. Class 5 will be $3.75, up from $2.50.

This is the first adjustment of fares at the California mainline plaza since the toll road opened on October 12, 1990. Fares are not collected on any of the ramps. 

The General Assembly has named five interchanges on the Mon/Fayette Expressway system in honor of local servicemen who received Medals of Honor for gallantry in combat.

They are:

·        Army Corporal Alfred L. Wilson, a native of Fairchance, Fayette County, who will be recognized with signage at Exit 8 (Big Six Road/Fairchance) at the northern terminus of the expressway’s Mason Dixon Link south of Uniontown. Cpl. Wilson, an Army medic during World War II, was mortally wounded in battle near Bezange la Petite, France but refused evacuation and helped save the lives of at least 10 wounded comrades.

·        Marine Colonel Mitchell Paige of Palm Desert, CA, a native of Charleroi, Washington County, who will be recognized with signage at Exit 39 near Mon City. Col. Paige was honored for heroism as a Marine noncommissioned officer in the Solomon Islands during World War II. When Japanese forces broke through the line directly in front of him during combat on Oct. 26, 1942, Col. Paige continued to command a machine gun section and direct fire until all of his men were killed or wounded. He held off attackers until reinforcements arrived and then led a bayonet charge and drove the enemy back.

·        Army Air Corps Sergeant Archibald Mathies from Finleyville, Washington County, a native Scot who will be recognized with signage at Exit 48 (Finleyville-Elrama Road) just south of the Allegheny County line. Sgt. Mathies entered military service at Pittsburgh and was serving as engineer and ball turret gunner on a bomber that was attacked by German fighter planes on Feb. 20, 1944. With the pilot wounded and unconscious, the co-pilot killed, the radio operator wounded and their plane severely damaged, Sgt. Mathies and other crew members managed to right the plane and fly it back. They refused to desert the wounded pilot but were killed when the plane crashed on their third attempt at an emergency landing.

·        Army Captain Reginald Desiderio, a Clairton native who will be recognized with signage at Exit 54 (Route 51). Capt. Desiderio was honored for heroism near Ipsok, Korea on Nov. 27, 1950. An infantry commander, he was twice wounded while his company was defending a task force command post but he refused evacuation and continued to direct his men. When the enemy broke through, Capt. Desiderio charged with a rifle, carbine and grenades and inflicted many casualties until he was mortally wounded. Spurred by his example, his company repelled the final attack.

·        Army Colonel Walter J. Marm, Jr. of Fremont, NC, a Washington, PA native who will be recognized with signage at Exit 36 at the junction of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Interstate 70. A platoon leader, he was wounded when storming a concealed machine gun near Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam on Nov. 14, 1965, after deliberately drawing fire to expose an enemy machine gun. When enemy fire continued, he charged 30 meters across open ground and hurled grenades into the enemy position. Then, armed with only a rifle, he continued the momentum of his assault and killed the remainder of the enemy.

The legislature has named the dual bridges carrying the Mon/Fayette Expressway over Mingo Creek and Pa. Route 88, the highest on the Turnpike system at some 250 feet, for Ringgold High School graduate and National Football League Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana. Montana played in the NFL from 1979 to 1994 and led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles. The Notre Dame alumnus closed his pro career with two seasons as a Kansas City Chief.

Total cost of the I-70-to-Route 51 Project will approximate $588 million. The sum includes construction costs of about $415 million.     


for Itinerary and Access Information for
Friday, April 12, 2002
"Community Day" 
Sunday, April 7, 2002


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649