News Release

CONTACT: Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717.831.7176
January 20, 2016

Pa. Turnpike Takes Next Steps on New Mon/Fayette Expressway Segment
Engineering firms revisit design tasks; summer public session planned.

HIGHSPIRE, PA. (Jan. 20 2016) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has taken several new steps in the development of the 14-mile Mon/Fayette Expressway project in Allegheny County that will connect State Route 51 in Jefferson Hills, Pa. to Interstate 376 (the Parkway East) in Monroeville, Pa.

The commission recently gave the green light to nine consulting firms to restart the study and design process, which was halted in 2009, required so that the project can go to construction. Seven engineering firms, already under contract when work stopped in 2009, will move ahead with roadway design; in addition, one firm is reexamining the environmental clearance and one firm is conducting traffic and revenue studies.

The seven design firms are: AECOM, Amman & Whitney, CDI Corp., The EADS Group Inc., McCormick Taylor Inc., Modjeski & Masters Inc. and Pennoni Associates Inc. Two new firms, selected for the project in late 2015, are McCormick Taylor Inc. for the environmental work and CDM Smith Inc. for traffic and revenue analysis. In addition, another firm, HDR Inc., is serving as design manager for the project — coordinating the engineering work on the seven design sections. The combined total contract amount authorized for all 10 firms is $108 million, based on estimates completed in 2003.

The commission also announced it plans to hold a public gathering this summer to give area residents an opportunity to learn of proposed modifications to the project alignment that was previously studied and to provide input about those modifications and their potential impacts. A specific date, time and location will be announced this spring.

The unfinished Mon/Fayette project — often referred to as the “PA-51-to-Pittsburgh” section — has been dormant for about six years due to lack of funding. As a result of new funding from Act 89 of 2013, Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan, of Monroeville, Pa., announced last summer that the commission will be reviving the $1.75 billion project.

“For the first time, a viable financial plan has been developed that funds this project through completion without the need for additional funding sources,” Chairman Logan stated. “This long-awaited project represents a significant investment in new capacity for the Commonwealth along with enhanced mobility and economic opportunities for the region.”

As part of the restart initiative, the Mon/Fayette Route 51 to I-376 project has been amended to eliminate the 10-mile leg along the north shore of the Monongahela River from East Pittsburgh to the I-376 interchange at Bates Street.

“This $2 billion leg was eliminated because it required many residential and business displacements, had numerous environmental impacts and was unaffordable given available funding,” Chairman Logan explained.

In addition, significant cost-cutting ideas are being incorporated into the modified design of the Route 51 to I-376 project, such as reducing the median width to 26 feet, integrating cashless, nonstop tolling and realigning the Monongahela River Bridge at Duquesne to reduce the span length and cost.

Another step to be taken this month will be the issuance of letters to property owners in the corridor. Called “Notice of Intent to Enter” letters, their purpose is to inform neighbors that Turnpike employees or representatives of the contracted consulting firms may need to enter properties to gather information on geotechnical conditions, the extent of wetlands and other topographic data needed during this stage of the project’s development.

The Pa. Turnpike Commission hopes to complete its reevaluation of the project’s 2004 Environmental Impact Statement — mandatory because of the time lapse and design modifications — in 12 to 18 months. It could begin acquiring the necessary rights of way in mid-2017, a process expected to take roughly three years to complete. Initial construction of this segment of the Mon/Fayette Expressway is not expected to begin until 2021 at the earliest.

The Pennsylvania Legislature assigned responsibility for development of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 1985. Design of the Mon/Fayette project from Route 51 to I-376 — the fourth and final project of the Mon/Fayette Expressway system — was originally started in 2004.

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