WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. — A new turnpike section opened Friday in Pennsylvania, helping to ease congestion on major routes, such as Interstate 79.
Known as the Southern Beltway, or PA Turnpike 576, the 13-mile section between U.S. Route 22 and I-79 connects to the existing, six-mile beltway section called the Findlay Connector, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The new Southern Beltway leads to I-79 at the Allegheny-Washington County line.
“It is not often, in the world of transportation, that we are able to construct brand-new highways,” PA Turnpike Chair Yassmin Gramian said.
“At this event, we commemorate this section’s completion. With (this) opening, it will ease congestion and create economic opportunities in Findlay, Robinson, Mount Pleasant, Cecil and North and South Fayette townships. Investment in transportation has historically paid for itself in greater prosperity and thriving communities.”
The Southern Beltway has been in development since the State Legislature passed Act 61 of 1985 and Act 26 of 1991, elevating the priority of building the Southern Beltway and Mon/Fayette Expressway to improve highway access and mobility in the region.
With the passage of Act 89 in 2013, a new funding stream was created to accelerate the progress of these projects.
“Without a doubt, the Southern Beltway will serve as an economic catalyst for the Greater Pittsburgh region,” Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said.
“It will provide better access to sites being developed along the Energy Commerce & Innovation Corridor (ECIC) which is 52 miles of largely untapped private, commercial and industrial lands near the Pittsburgh International Airport. This, in turn, will support new employment in this area.”
Officials said the $800 million project will help ease congestion on arteries like the Parkway West, I-79 and State Route 50. Additionally, it will provide emergency-response vehicles, businesses and the public with a safer alternative to rural, two-lane roads.
There will be three toll points on the Southern Beltway, which is an open-road tolling system that utilizes overhead toll gantries to charge customers, the news release stated.
Turnpike customers will be charged via their E-ZPass accounts or the PA Toll By Plate program, which takes a picture of the license plate and sends an invoice to the registered owner of the vehicle.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.