State Rep. Jesse White and Sen. Tim Solobay lauded the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s announcement to reopen the design phase of the U.S. Route 22 to Interstate 79 portion of the Southern Beltway.
The first construction contract on the $632.5 million project is expected to be awarded in 2014.
Stretching from Route 22 in Robinson Township to I-79 near Cecil and South Fayette townships along the Washington/Allegheny County border, White, D-Cecil, said work on this portion of the Southern Beltway might be the biggest infrastructure improvement project the region has seen in years.
“Chairman Lieberman and the Turnpike Commission really gave the 46th District, and the entire region, a huge Christmas gift today,” said White. “Their commitment to seeking out funding opportunities and never giving up on this project should be commended, especially with scarce resources and high competition for infrastructure dollars for many worthy projects. Infrastructure improvements create jobs and commerce, and I’m optimistic that’s exactly what we’ll have here.”
According to the turnpike commission, the first construction contract will be for a bridge to carry the Southern Beltway over U.S. Route 22 and serve as a part of the interchange linking Route 22 and the Beltway. Then, beginning in 2016, the Turnpike Commission expects to begin awarding a number of separate construction contracts for the roadway sections and five interchanges that will make up the Route 22 to I-79 Project.
The project will extend the Southern Beltway to 19 total miles, connecting I-79 to I-376 at the Pittsburgh International Airport; it is expected to double traffic on the Findlay Connector to approximately 6,500 vehicles per day, according to the commission.
“The Southern Beltway was the subject of one of the very first public meetings I ever hosted, along with Senator Barry Stout, nearly six years ago. I’ve been speaking with local residents about it almost every week since,” White said. “My office routinely fields calls for status updates on the roadway, and we spent a lot of time working with residents whose homes were in the right-of-way and being purchased by the commission.
“The Mayan calendar may have ended today, but a new calendar begins for the Southern Beltway project,” White added. “It is still going to take time, but I’m looking forward to this project advancing and the many jobs and other opportunities for our region that should come with it.”
Solobay called it "tremendous news for the southwestern region of the state, for both commuters and businesses that use the crowded two-lane roads in the area."
But that's not all, he said.
"More than that, it’s an affirmation that economic recovery of the region is firmly on track and that new highway infrastructure will be required to carry the increased traffic that comes with sustained economic growth," the senator said. "The investment of more than a half-billion dollars in this project will ripple throughout the community and beyond, and the students that I have been visiting during their vocational training will be able to look forward to new opportunities after graduation."
Solobay continued: "My House and Senate colleagues in the region are prepared to work with the turnpike commission, constituents and local government officials to ensure that the process of planning, land acquisition and construction moves quickly while considering the concerns of all involved. I look forward to taking another step forward in the economic future of the region.”
For more information and a project map of the proposed route, visit: http://www.paturnpike.com/MonFaySB/22to79/map.htm.