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Joe Agnello
(724) 755-5262
fax: (724) 755-5142

October 22, 2008


The newest section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's Mon/Fayette Expressway system will open for traffic at 1 pm Thursday, Oct. 23.

Phase 1 of the Uniontown-to-Brownsville Area Project is located exclusively in Fayette County and extends some 8.2 miles northwest from Pa. Route 51 in North Union Township to Redstone Way (the new U.S. Route 40) in Redstone Township.

A ribbon cutting ceremony originally scheduled for Thursday morning has been postponed until 10 am Thursday, Oct. 30, in deference to Monday afternoon's death of construction worker Gilbert Eutsey, 58, of Dawson, Pa., an employee of the Mashuda Corporation.

All drivers using the Phase 1 section as of Thursday afternoon to go one direction will pay a toll at one of three locations - the northbound off-ramp at the Searights Road interchange, the southbound on-ramp at the Searights Road interchange, or at the mainline toll plaza in Redstone Township just across the Menallen Township border.

Cash fares at the mainline plaza will be 95 cents for two axles, $1.90 for three axles, $2.85 for four axles, $3.75 for five axles and $4.70 for six axles. Cash fares at the Searights Road interchange will be 65 cents for two-axles (a typical passenger car, pickup truck, van or sport utility vehicle), $1.25 for three axles, $1.90 for four axles, $2.50 for five axles and $3.15 for six axles.

Cash or E-ZPass will be accepted at each tolling location. Cash payments will be accepted by automated machines that will give change. At the mainline plaza, E-ZPass Express lanes allowing drivers to pass through electronic fare collection at open highway speeds will be operational. E-ZPass customers who miss the middle express lanes can still use their transponders in marked, narrower fare collection lanes off to the side where the cash machines are.

Drivers who do not have E-ZPass accounts will be able to sign up at the mainline plaza on Thursday afternoon and throughout the day on Friday and receive active transponders they can use immediately in any fare collection lane, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, where the purple E-ZPass logo is displayed.

Those stopping to open an E-ZPass account should provide their driver's license, vehicle registration card, license plate number and year and description of vehicle.

The E-ZPass transponder is mounted on the windshield and sends a signal to an overhead reader in the fare collection lane. The devices interact to classify vehicles and deduct appropriate fares from pre-paid accounts while drivers keep moving.

It costs as little as $38 to open an account, with $35 of that being a prepaid balance that does not expire. It's easiest to pay by credit card or debit card and authorize automatic replenishment when your pre-paid balance drops below $10. Transponders can be moved between vehicles.

Customers can view transactions and print monthly statements from the Turnpike's Web site. All personal account information is confidential.

Two half-interchanges built as part of Phase 1 (at Old Pittsburgh Road near Uniontown and at Redstone Way/U.S. Route 40 near Brownsville) also will open on October 23. The tolled movements at those interchanges will not open until they become full, four-movement interchanges with the completion of Phase 2 in late 2011.

Phase 2 of the Uniontown-to-Brownsville Area Project measures about 9.1 miles and will take the expressway under Route 40 and swing it around Brownsville through Luzerne Township and across the Monongahela River into Centerville Borough, Washington County on a new four-lane bridge - 3,013 feet long and 160 feet high.

Phase 1 construction, totaling about $197 million, began in February 2006. The general contractors were Mashuda Corporation, Walsh Construction, Swank Associated Companies, New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company and Mosites Construction.

All six roadway construction contracts to complete Phase 2 were awarded between March 18 and August 19, 2008. They total a combined $412 million.

Two interchanges are included in Phase 2. One will link Bull Run Road and Telegraph Road and provide improved access to the 2,000-bed State Correctional Institution in Luzerne Township (SCI-Fayette) that opened in October 2003. The other will provide tie-ins to Route 88 in Centerville Borough, Washington County south of the California Toll Road.

The purpose of the MFE Uniontown-to-Brownsville Area Project is to provide for safer and more efficient vehicular travel between Uniontown and the Brownsville area by improving access, addressing projected capacity requirements and drawing traffic (especially trucks) off Route 40 and onto a modern facility.

The project also is designed to make Route 40 less of a major transportation artery and more of a local traffic corridor and tourist destination.