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Extending Interstate 376 For All the Wrong Reasons

I am trying to understand the reasons of extending Interstate 376.  Beside 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 of the signage for extending Interstate 376, I’d rather it go 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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E-ZPass Finally Coming to Extensions

E-ZPass appeared on the Pennsylvania Turnpike System six years ago, and it’s finally coming to the extensions in the Pittsburgh area.  In addition, the current coin-drop machines will be upgraded to ones similar to those at the Jefferson Hills Toll Plaza on PA Turnpike 43 (Mon-Fayette Expressway).

PA Turnpike 66 toll plaza in Westmoreland County currently without E-ZPass capabilities.
PA Turnpike 66 toll plaza in Westmoreland County between Exit 4 and Exit 6

About time, as the addition of E-ZPass is long over due! A timetable with implementation dates had been placed on the Toll Highways page, but it was removed because I grew tired of changing it with a new updated schedule that never seemed to pan out.  If only it was active on PA Turnpike 43 when I drove that expressway almost on a daily basis.  I can’t tell you how many times I ended up behind someone in the exact change lane paying their toll in pennies!  Not to mention the one night I found a toll collector asleep, leaning out of the booth.

As for the coin-drop machines, I also say about time!  The early models are very temperamental and will sometimes not register your payment.  Even when 66 opened in 1993, that summer I had a problem with one at its mainline toll plaza.  The worst was once at the California Toll Plaza on Turnpike 43.  I pulled into a lane and saw a worker standing at the machine.  I threw my two quarters into the basket, the traffic signal turned green, and everything seemed fine. Then, WHAM, the gate came crashing down.  Luckily, I hadn’t started yet or I would have had a horizontal crease across my hood.  All the worker said was “whoops!”  Yeah, that’d have been a big whoops the Turnpike Commission would have been paying to fix.

The only expressway not included in the expansion of E-ZPass is the aforementioned PA Turnpike 43 (Mon-Fayette Expressway).  It is easy to see why, since right now it is a disjointed expressway with less traffic than the others.

E-ZPass, Other Enhancements Coming This Year to Greensburg and Beaver Valley Expressways – Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

 

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