Gov. Tom Corbett and other dignitaries turned ceremonial shovels of dirt Monday to mark the start of the second leg of the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Southern Beltway project.
Construction of twin bridges is well underway at the project site, near Route 22 in Washington County. The $14 million project is the first step of an estimated $550 million in construction that will add 13 miles of highway to the existing Findlay Connector, designated as Turnpike 576.
When it is finished in 2019, the toll road will extend from Pittsburgh International Airport to Interstate 79 near the Washington-Allegheny county line.
Mr. Corbett said the project will open up land for development, boost the region’s gas drilling industry and help to create thousands of jobs.
If Royal Dutch Shell goes ahead with plans for a massive plant in Beaver County, “that turns this whole corner of southwestern Pennsylvania into a hub, not just in transportation but in energy,” he said.
State Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, said the highway will reduce congestion on the Parkway West and give the region a “huge advantage” in competing for business development.