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


Thomas A. Fox
(724) 755-5260
(724) 755-5142 (fax)
e-mail: tfox@paturnpike.com

November 20, 2003


The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, along with representatives of PENNDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), have completed a year-long evaluation of the Citizens' Plan submitted by Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) as an alternative to the proposed Mon/Fayette Expressway Project in Allegheny County.

After analyzing the ability of the Citizens' Plan to satisfy measures of effectiveness to meet project needs, estimating impacts (particularly displacements), calculating costs, and considering input from the general public and elected officials, the transportation agencies have determined that the Citizens' Plan is not a reasonable alternative to be advanced for further study.

The analysis included evaluation of the Citizens' Plan as presented in PennFuture's comments, as well as, a Modified Citizens' Plan , modified to meet acceptable levels of service and satisfy current design criteria, and a Minimum Criteria Upgrade version, scaled down to include the minimum number of lanes required to meet acceptable levels of service.

“The study shows that, even when the Citizens' Plan is modified to reduce impacts while maintaining acceptable design features, the Expressway better meets the identified needs and remains a more effective, economical solution,” said Tony Mento, a transportation engineer at FHWA's Pennsylvania Division Office in Harrisburg . “However, some elements of the Citizens' Plan may be worthy improvements to the transportation infrastructure in the study corridor and could nicely supplement the proposed Expressway.”

PennFuture submitted its Citizens' Plan in September 2002, during the official comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that identified the North Shore Alternative as the Recommended Preferred Alternative for the Mon/Fayette Expressway Project from PA Route 51 to Interstate 376. In addition, the City of Pittsburgh Council passed a resolution in December 2002 requesting a full evaluation of the Citizens' Plan .

The Citizens' Plan is a combination of highway upgrades, construction of new roadways, expansion of transit service and completion of trail projects. It also proposed construction of five multi-modal centers where various means of travel would interact to offer people more transportation choices.

Preliminary findings of the Citizens' Plan evaluation were presented to elected officials and the general public, for review and comment, at a public plans display held last March 12 at West Mifflin High School. The preliminary findings were also presented to Pittsburgh City Council and to representatives of the federal and state resource agencies who are involved in the development of the project.

A follow-up meeting was held which was attended by representatives of the Turnpike Commission, FHWA, PENNDOT, the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development and the City of Pittsburgh Department of Planning. Authors of the Citizens' Plan declined an invitation to attend this follow-up meeting; however, PennFuture did submit a detailed comment letter. Input received at the meeting and contained in PennFuture's comment letter was taken into consideration in finalizing the evaluation of the Citizens' Plan .

Elected officials within the study corridor did not support the proposals in the Citizens' Plan; in fact, a majority of elected officials opposed the plan or specifically indicated support for the Recommended Preferred Alternative . Also, of the 347 comments received on the preliminary findings of the Citizens' Plan evaluation, 285 opposed implementation of the Citizens' Plan and/or supported the Recommended Preferred Alternative.

Principal findings in the Citizens' Plan evaluation include:

•  The Recommended Preferred Alternative is more effective than the Citizens' Plan in reducing congestion, through improving both lane miles level of service and vehicle miles traveled level of service. In addition, the Recommended Preferred Alternative is more effective at increasing the number of homes within a 30-minute commute of employment centers and improving access to employment sites for truck traffic.

•  Implementation of the Citizens' Plan or its modifications would displace between 760 and 1,605 buildings. The comparable figure for constructing the expressway is 537 buildings.

•  Estimated costs of the Citizens' Plan exceed estimated costs of the Recommended Preferred Alternative by $2.2 to $3.4 billion.

•  The estimated costs of the Citizens' Plan would essentially require the majority of, or even exceed, the current Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) programmed funding allocation for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County . This would range from encumbering all but $547 million of the funding allocation, to exceeding the funding allocation by $240 million. In addition, the transit elements of the Citizens' Plan would encumber all but $617 million to $834 million of the current programmed transit funding allocation for the entire SPC region. No project sponsor currently exists for the implementation of the Citizens' Plan .

The Citizens' Plan evaluation will be summarized in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the PA Route 51 to Interstate 376 Project, and a copy of the document will be included in the Technical Support Data files at the Turnpike Commission's Western Regional Office in New Stanton. These files can be reviewed upon request when the FEIS is made available for public review, which is anticipated to occur in January 2004.

Formal comments related to the evaluation of the Citizens' Plan should be submitted during the official review period for the FEIS.


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