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
e-mail: jagnello@paturnpike.com

May 24, 2002  


The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation for the proposed Mon/Fayette Expressway Project between Pa. Route 51 in Jefferson Hills and Interstate 376 (the Parkway East) in Pittsburgh and Monroeville will be available for public review and comment beginning Friday, May 31, 2002.

The five-volume document, which includes a Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit Application, will be available for public review May 31 through August 14, 2002, at local municipal offices, area libraries and other locations. Wednesday, August 14 will mark the close of the 75-day circulation period and the close of the official comment period.

The DEIS/Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation may be obtained in CD-ROM form, for a nominal fee, by contacting the Turnpike Commission’s Western Regional Office at 724-755-5263. 

Written comments on the DEIS should be sent to David P. Willis, Environmental Manager, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676. Written comments on the Section 404 Permit Application should be sent to Rich Sobol, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Branch, 1000 Liberty Avenue, 1834 Federal Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Comments also can be presented in oral or written form during any of three public hearings that will be held in July. The public hearings will be held from 1 to 9 pm Tuesday, July 16 at West Mifflin High School; Tuesday, July 23 at Burgwin Elementary School in Hazelwood; and Thursday, July 25 at the Monroeville Expo Mart.

Each public hearing will include a display of plans where people can review maps and information, including the anticipated impacts of alternatives that were studied in detail. Representatives of the Turnpike Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers will give formal presentations at 2 pm and 6 pm.

Immediately following the formal presentations, oral testimony can be given and will be recorded for the official record by a stenographer. Speakers will be limited to five minutes but can submit more detailed written testimony to supplement their oral testimony.

People also will have the option of giving oral testimony in private, either to a stenographer or a tape recorder, anytime between 1 and 9 pm. Private oral testimony also will be included in the official record.

In advance of the public hearings, the Turnpike Commission will host four open house plans displays so that interested citizens can review mapping and ask questions about the DEIS, the recommended preferred alternative for the expressway project, right-of-way acquisition and relocation procedures and the Section 404 Permit Application.

The informational sessions will be held from 1 to 8 pm Thursday, June 13 at the Monroeville Expo Mart; Tuesday, June 18 at the Braddock Volunteer Fire Department #2 Social Hall; Tuesday, June 25 at Burgwin Elementary School; and Tuesday, July 9 at West Mifflin High School.

The North Shore and South Shore Alternatives presented in the DEIS are 24-mile tolled expressways extending north from Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to interchanges with I-376 in Pittsburgh and Monroeville. After passing through Jefferson Hills, both traverse West Mifflin, western Dravosburg, West Mifflin again and Duquesne. The eastern leg of the project (approximately six miles, also common to both alternatives) begins in North Versailles after crossing the Monongahela River on a new bridge between Duquesne and North Versailles and traverses East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, Wilkins, and Penn Hills before linking with the Parkway East at Monroeville.

The two alternatives diverge for the western leg of the project (approximately 10 miles) with one on the north side of the Mon River and one on the south side of the Mon River. They share a common terminus at a connection with the Parkway East near the Pittsburgh Technology Center in the area of Second Avenue and Bates Street.

The South Shore Alternative for the western leg would require a second, new Mon River bridge exclusively within the City of Pittsburgh, approximately 1.5 miles east of the Birmingham Bridge.

A “No-Build” Alternative also is presented in detail in the DEIS.

The recommended preferred alternative is the North Shore Alternative, traversing North Braddock, Braddock, Rankin and Swissvale before entering the City of Pittsburgh.

Among the reasons for that preference:

·        Elected officials from the 19 municipalities in the study corridor, as well as Allegheny County officials, overwhelmingly favor the North Shore Alternative.

·        Those expressing a preference in written comments from public meetings held in March and April 2001 showed strong support for the North Shore Alternative.

·        Construction costs associated with the South Shore Alternative are estimated at nearly $2.7 billion, some $788 million more than estimated construction costs associated with the North Shore Alternative.

·        The South Shore Alternative would displace the Pennsylvania American Water Company pumping station along the Mon River in Baldwin, which supplies over 130,000 customers. The facility could not be relocated close by and permit restrictions would limit the intake of water from any replacement facility to such a degree that water company needs may not be met.

·        The South Shore Alternative would displace 2.7 miles of proposed right-of-way for the Steel Valley Trail, with no opportunity for replacement, while the North Shore Alternative would accommodate all currently proposed riverfront trail projects.

·        The North Shore Alternative would provide improved access to abandoned brownfield sites in Duquesne, Penn Hills, Rankin and Swissvale and would provide direct access to the Duquesne City Center and Carrie Furnace brownfield sites by adding access ramps from local roads into the sites, over active railroad lines.

·        The South Shore Alternative would conflict with land use plans being implemented at The Waterfront and the South Side Works, the two most advanced brownfield redevelopment projects within the study corridor.

·        The South Shore Alternative would place 14 piers in the Mon River in the vicinity of the Union Railroad barge loading facility in Duquesne, restricting navigational access, particularly during high-water periods.

 The purpose of the Mon/Fayette Expressway Project from Route 51 to Interstate 376 is to provide improved transportation access to economically depressed Mon Valley communities, to encourage redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites, to encourage revitalization of neighborhoods and to relieve traffic congestion on existing roadways in southeastern Allegheny County.

 After reviewing comments on the DEIS the Turnpike Commission, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will prepare and circulate a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for public review and comment.

 The FEIS will address comments received at the public hearings and during the DEIS comment period. 

Federal approval of the FEIS and receipt of a Record of Decision from the FHWA would allow the Turnpike Commission to proceed with final design of the project and acquisition of required right-of-way. 

The Commonwealth’s current financial commitment to the project is $291 million. That sum is deemed sufficient to advance the project through the environmental clearance, final design and right-of-way acquisition phases. 

Utility relocations (including relocation of railroad lines) and construction costs are estimated at $1.6 billion.

The growing Mon/Fayette Expressway system now measures approximately 35 miles, including 25 miles extending north from Pa. Route 88 in the Brownsville area to Route 51 in Jefferson Hills.   

Eventually, the system is to extend approximately 65 miles south from Pittsburgh, through the Mon Valley, Brownsville and Uniontown to Interstate 68 just east of Morgantown, W.Va.

Joint Public Hearing Notice &
DEIS/Draft Section 4 (f) Evaluation/Section 404 Permit Application Review Locations

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