Media & Public Relations

Contact: Tom Fox
May 14, 2009

I-79 to Mon/Fayette Expressway Project Environmental Decision Issued

Marks the Last of the Southern Beltway Projects to Receive Federal Approval

PITTSBURGH, PA (05/14/2009; 1011)(readMedia)-- The environmental Record of Decision (ROD) has been issued for the proposed 12.5-mile Southern Beltway Project from I-79 to the Mon/Fayette Expressway (Turnpike 43) at a new interchange south of Finleyville. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed the ROD on May 13, 2009, which concludes the environmental decision-making process for the estimated $730 million project.

The Corps' action formally designates the 12.5-mile Green Alternative Option 1A / Tan-Red Alternative, located exclusively in Washington County, as the Selected Alternative. Construction of this project would complete the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's (PTC) Southern Beltway system that begins at PA Rt. 60 and extends eastward to an interchange with US Rt. 22 (opened to traffic 10/06), continues eastward with the proposed US Rt. 22 to I-79 project (currently in final design), and concludes with the eastern end point of the I-79 to Mon/Fayette Expressway interchange with Turnpike 43 south of Finleyville.

"Having successfully completed the environmental process on this final Southern Beltway Project gives us an opportunity to create a 32-mile tolled expressway between the Pittsburgh International Airport and the Mon/Fayette Expressway and to establish an important transportation link to the airport corridor from key locations in Allegheny and Washington Counties," said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier.

The Selected Alternative traverses Cecil, North Strabane, Peters, Nottingham and Union Townships.

It would cross over Little Chartiers Creek, a portion of Canonsburg Lake (a public recreation area owned by the PA Fish and Boat Commission), and US Rt. 19 approximately 1,500 feet south of the intersection of Waterdam Road and US Rt. 19. The Corps' ROD includes commitments to mitigate for unavoidable environmental impacts.

The bridge over Canonsburg Lake (approximately 53 feet high) would be designed to avoid direct impacts to fishing and boating areas.

Residential displacements associated with the Selected Alternative are estimated at 96. There are three estimated business displacements.

Between the western end point (I-79) and eastern endpoint (Turnpike 43), interchanges proposed include completion of the local interchange with SR 1089 (Morganza Road), and interchanges with US Rt. 19 near Waterdam Plaza via a new connector road in North Strabane Township and with SR 1016 (Sugar Run Road) in Nottingham Township.

Securing this final ROD marks the end of a 17-year project development process that began in June of 1992 following Pennsylvania State legislative Acts 61 of 1985 and 26 of 1991 that mandated that the PTC study, design and construct what became four Mon/Fayette Expressway Projects and three Southern Beltway Projects in Allegheny, Washington and Fayette Counties.

Upon completion of Phase II of the Uniontown to Brownsville Area Project in 2012, three of the four Mon/Fayette Expressway Projects will be open to traffic. Additionally, a 4-mile section of the expressway in West Virginia is expected to open by December of 2009 resulting in 60-miles of new expressway between I-68 in West Virginia and PA Route 51 in Jefferson Hills Borough in Southeastern Allegheny County. Of the three Southern Beltway Projects, the six-mile long Findlay Connector was opened to traffic in October 2006. US Rt. 22 to I -79 is in final design, and the environmental clearance process is now complete for the I-79 to the Mon/Fayette Expressway project.

Brimmeier added "We are very proud of the fact that we have been able to get all of these projects through the environmental process and construct the majority of them. It is unfortunate that because of funding shortages we will not be able to advance the I-79 to Mon/Fayette Expressway Project to final design at this time. However, the PTC remains committed to exploring all avenues of funding, including Public-Private Partnerships, to bring the remaining Mon/Fayette Expressway Project from Rt. 51 to I-376, and the two Southern Beltway Projects from Rt. 22 to I-79 and the I-79 to the Mon/Fayette Expressway to construction."