Extending Interstate 376 For All the Wrong Reasons

Extension of the Interstate 376 designation westward beyond downtown Pittsburgh was announced utilizing some very “flimsy” reasoning as to why it is needed.

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I am trying to understand the reasons of extending Interstate 376.  Besides it creating needless work for me by having to change pages and delete some, I am against this change.

Don’t get me wrong, I am for the upgrades of the Parkway West that are included in the extension plan, such as the 60 cloverleaf in Robinson. What I do not understand is the “logic” behind this renumbering.

Pittsburgh International Airport is not on an Interstate

US Representative Melissa Hart said in a WTAE-TV report in October:

We have the only international airport not served by an Interstate.

US Representative Melissa Hart

Obviously, she forgot Dulles International, right outside the nation’s capital. George Bush/Houston Intercontinental and LaGuardia International in New York City also do not connect to Interstates.

USAirways did not “de-hub” Pittsburgh International because it wasn’t connected directly to an Interstate.  Who knows?  The PTC might just get I-576 for the Southern Beltway, which will end right at the PIA interchange on 60.

People from outside the regional will know this is no dirt road.

US Senator Rick Santorum

An exaggeration, but no matter what map you look at, it shows expressway-grade highways around the airport.

If you sign it, they will come

Some also think that placing a red-white-blue marker on an expressway automatically brings economic growth faster than a plain, boring old black and white marker.  As if the “Interstate Fairy” comes by and brings jobs overnight, ignoring the business climate of the region. Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce President Sally Haas said in the March 21, 2006, edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Having that designation is critical for getting us on the map outside the Pittsburgh region. That’s the thing that attracts developers here.

We are already on the map, any of which can be purchased in the Pennsylvania Highways Map Store.  I guess the development at the 60 cloverleaf just happened by coincidence with an Interstate designation.

Easier to get to Downtown
Map of the routes between Pittsburgh International Airport and downtown prior to extending Interstate 376.
The routes between Pittsburgh International Airport and downtown

Another reason I have heard is that it will be easier for travelers leaving the airport to get to downtown.  To leave the airport, you have two options: Beaver/Moon and Pittsburgh.  Following the signs for “Pittsburgh,” and not taking any exits, you wind up in downtown no matter the route number(s).

Instead of money replacing all the signage for extending Interstate 376, I’d rather it goes other places. Fixing some of the 47% of structurally deficient bridges across the state is a start.  Or else we’ll see more failures such as the Lake View Drive overpass on Interstate 70, and next time, the outcome might be worse.

Renaming of Interstate 376 Corridor a Step Closer – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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By pahighways

Jeff Kitsko has been the owner and webmaster of Pennsylvania Highways since its inception in 1997 as a means to illustrate the history of the Commonwealth's roadways.

2 replies on “Extending Interstate 376 For All the Wrong Reasons”

As I’m not sure how these blog things work, I’ll type anyway.
While I have to agree with the points made above, I still have to raise my hand in support of the 376 extension. While I understand the history of the whole 79/279 switcheroo thing, I think that when they decided to switch I-79 to where it is now, they should have just extended 376 along the whole Penn-Lincoln Parkway then (at least to 79).
Put simply, it is a contiguous highway from Monroeville to New Castle. While there are many route numbers switch roads; the clusterf*ck of numbers for a unified road is pretty ridiculous. I do agree with your comments about the “Interstate Fairy” and “related” econmic stimulus… This just strikes me as something that makes sense to do (or should’ve been done long ago)
Ironicly, since the FUTURE 376 signs are already up, and the politicians have said the “future” to be 2009, I’m willing to bet that the interchange with Rt. 60 & 22-30 won’t see a meaningful upgrade/reconfiguration for many years after that.

It would seem that the legislature’s decision to toll I-80 and Turnpike Commission’s continuing effort to kill off industry here in the northern part of PA is a means to pay for the construction and implementation of “I-376” as well as improvements of I-79 in the south. The goals were not to use the tolls from I-80 for mass transit, bridge, and road improvements but to replace PennDot funds earmarked for and which would be earmarked in the future for repairs and construction of I-80 and use them instead on projects such as I-376.
Frankly I would like to know if the Turnpike Commission is to give up the tolling of PA 60 when the designation I-376 is put into place or continue collecting tolls. I understand the “ditch” is sinking and needs replacement.

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