It has been three years since there was a holiday edition of the longest running road enthusiast meets in southwestern Pennsylvania. That and the streak of Saturday-only meets came to an end today with the Winter 2010 SWPA Meet. I’d like to thank all who traveled both near and far to attend. They did so even with the snow falling in the area and the winter storm churning up the Eastern Seaboard.
The meet began at 12 PM at the Route 40 Classic Diner on what is now Business US 40 in Brownsville. Food was good as well as the conversations. My Maryland counterpart, Mike Pruett, brought a copy of an old trails guide book, a precursor to the modern road atlas, from the late 1920s for everyone to peruse. I brought some recent Pennsylvania officials from 2006 to 2010 for anyone who needed to fill gaps in their collections.
Since these holiday meets are on a smaller scale than the ones during warmer months, the tour was not too extensive. After lunch, we headed down Business US 40 into Brownsville for a taste of the old National Road and to check out the work on connecting PA Turnpike 43 to the PA 88 expressway in West Brownsville. The new alignment, which leaves PA 88, is quite evident as swings east to cross the Monongahela River. The former intersection of old and new PA 88 has been reconfigured to be a continual route through the future interchange. This leaves up for debate whether or not PA 88 will be moved back to its former route into West Brownsville, or join with PA Turnpike 43 to US 40.
The cloverleaf at PA Turnpike 43 and US 40 is temporarily a partial one due to ongoing construction to upgrade the segment of PA 88 that will be incorporated into the Mon-Fayette Expressway. The northbound lanes are being rebuilt and what is interesting is that the overhead gantry that was before the cloverleaf has been replaced with a blue, mono-tube gantry that is seemingly becoming standard on the Mon-Fayette.
Back across the Lane Bane Bridge, we picked up the old road and stopped at the Searights Toll House. Unlike the last Winter SWPA Meet, there were no broken windows nor damaged screen doors to report. It was good to see that a security system was installed as indicated by a sign by the entrance. Here we said goodbye to half of the attendees and the rest of us continued east on US 40 to drive through the new PA Turnpike 43/US 119 stack interchange. While we took the old route east, we took the new route back to bring the Winter 2010 SWPA Meet to an end saying our farewells, and headed to our respective destinations.