Work on Southern Beltway's second phase to start in spring

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After years of delays because of a lack of funding, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will move ahead with construction of the second of three phases of the Southern Beltway.

Work on a 12-mile section of the toll road from U.S. Route 22 in Robinson, Washington County, to Interstate 79 near the Allegheny-Washington county line, will begin in the spring, the commission said Monday.

The overall cost is projected at $550 million and, if all goes well, construction will be completed in 2019, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

"When opened to traffic, the Route 22 to I-79 project will create economic opportunities in Findlay, Robinson, Mount Pleasant, Cecil and North and South Fayette townships," turnpike commission chairman William K. Lieberman said. "It will provide better access to sites being developed by the Allegheny County Airport Authority and a direct link from I-79 to more than 4,000 acres of private, untapped commercial and industrial lands."

Former state Sen. Sean Logan of Monroeville, who serves on the commission, said the project will ease congestion on the Parkway West, I-79 and Route 50. "It will provide emergency response vehicles, businesses and the public with a safer alternative to rural, two-lane roads," he said.

The second section would link with the existing Findlay Connector, also known as Turnpike 576, forming a 19-mile highway connecting I-79 with Pittsburgh International Airport. Drivers from south of the Pittsburgh district who now use the congested parkway to reach the airport would have a second option.

The project, stalled for years and all but given up for dead, gained new life in November when the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett agreed on a transportation funding measure that will generate up to $2.5 billion per year in new revenue for roads, bridges, public transit and other transportation modes.

The turnpike has awarded the first construction contract, for $14 million for a bridge over U.S. 22, to Mosites Construction of Robinson, Allegheny County. It also hired CDR Maguire Inc., a national company with offices on the North Shore, to manage the overall project. Work on the bridge will begin in the spring.

Construction will move in stages from west to east over the coming years, Mr. DeFebo said. The new section will have six interchanges.

The third and final phase of the beltway would extend 12.5 miles from I-79 to the Mon-Fayette Expressway near Finleyville. Alignment and a time schedule for that phase, estimated to cost $700 million, have not been determined.

Jon Schmitz: or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at Twitter: @pgtraffic. First Published January 13, 2014 5:43 PM

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