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Events News

Turnpike 43 FINALLY Opens to West Virginia

Tom Petty said the waiting is the hardest part, and the Turnpike Commission can attest to that musical proclamation.  The Mason-Dixon Link, which is the section from the state line to Exit 8 of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, was built in the late 1990s. The majority of it opened on March 1, 2000 to traffic.  The exception was the piece from the West Virginia state line to Exit 2. That would remain unopened for a little over a decade. The reason due to construction of WV 43 taking longer than projected because of finance issues.  Ironically that problem would be solved during the economic downturn of the latter part of the 2000s. ARRA, or economic stimulus, dollars were provided to the states for “shovel-ready” projects. Today, PA Turnpike 43 finally opens to West Virginia!

Entering PA Turnpike 43 northbound via the off-ramp at Exit 2
Entering PA Turnpike 43 northbound at Exit 2 in a southerly direction to reach the site of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

At last, the time finally came to let that “new road smell” loose and allow vehicles other than construction company ones to drive across the state line.  Two ribbon-cutting ceremonies would be held: one south of the Mason-Dixon Line and one north.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation was up first at 10:30 AM. They brought their starting line-up of dignitaries including Senator Joe Manchin III and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.  Below is footage of the West Virginia ceremony.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHJiS1ueIoo

After the cutting of the ribbon, it was time to jump into the provided shuttle buses or your personal vehicle and head back north into Pennsylvania.  Our ribbon-cutting event was not as long nor as well attended by officials as West Virginia’s.

Local and state officials cutting the ribbon for PA Turnpike 43 at the state line
The people most responsible for the highway coming into existence are behind the sign, from left to right:  PTC Commissioner J. William Lincoln, new PTC CEO William K. Lieberman, Senator Richard Kasunic, and former Senator J. Barry Stout.

The ceremonies marking the end of the 11 year wait for the Mon-Fayette Expressway’s “Mason-Dixon Link” to finally cross the Mason-Dixon Line. In short, PA Turnpike 43 finally opens to West Virginia!

Officials Open Yet Another Part of Mon-Fayette Expressway – Greensburg Tribune-Review

 
Categories
Events News

Winter 2010 SWPA Meet

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.

 
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News

A Flyover Interchange Opens in Fayette County

The brisk morning of December 13 marked the beginning of the end for the long-awaited Uniontown-to-Brownsville section of the long-awaited Mon-Fayette Expressway.  It was then that the flyover interchange opens between PA Turnpike 43, US 119, and PA 51/Pittsburgh Street in Uniontown.

With the SWPA XMAS Meet a week away, I decided to make a trip to scout locations for the tour.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get there until dusk, so none of the pictures came out clearly enough to post.  The few that I did take, I was able to update the US 119 and PA Turnpike 43 Exit Guides.  The interchange itself is quite an impressive Semi-Directional “T,” with the diamond interchange with PA 51 underneath.  What is strange is that the ramp from US 119 northbound is only one lane.  It should be two since it is carrying the PA Turnpike 43 designation.

While both directions of US 119 have a diagramatical sign for this complex junction, the guide sign for Turnpike 43 heading southbound on US 119 has the control cities of Brownsville and Pittsburgh while northbound it is just Pittsburgh.

Diagramatical guide sign for the flyover interchange between PA Turnpike 43 and US 119
Guide sign on PA Turnpike 43 southbound approaching US 119.

As of now, there are no exit numbers for any of the interchanges between the Chadville Demonstration Project in South Uniontown and the new interchange at Pittsburgh Street.  Not surprising considering that there is only one PA Turnpike 43 marker on US 40 westbound/US 119 northbound.  It is located just before the Main Street interchange. While the US 40 and US 119 markers are posted together, the poor PA Turnpike 43 is by itself about 30 feet before the other two.  Poor PA Turnpike 43, ostracized by the black and white markers!  Heading southbound there is only one mention of PA Turnpike 43 on a pull-through sign at the Main Street interchange.  Then there is nothing until the 40/119 split.  Only then is it denoted as PA 43 which it has since that section was completed almost two decades ago.

While the flyover interchange opens, the segment from it to Exit 15 at Northgate Highway also opened to traffic Monday.  Northbound traffic exiting and southbound traffic entering at that interchange will have to pay a toll.

 
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Announcements News

It’s a Bouncing Baby Business Route

Congratulations Brownsville, you’re the proud parents of the newest auxiliary route in Pennsylvania! It is a bouncing baby business route for US 40.

With the new section of US 40 east of the borough finished, PennDOT decided to sign the former route as business route. The new designation keeps the US 40 markers on the former route from Redstone Way to PA 166. In addition, they return to the former route into Brownsville for the first time since 1970!

The numerous changes in this area are all due to the Mon-Fayette Expressway. Completing US 40 from the end of the expressway at Grindstone Road, where traffic has had to zig-zag since the Nixon administration, has always been a part of the expressway plan.

The section of US 40 expressway that exists was built in anticipation of it becoming part of the proposed route. The Turnpike Commission was considering including that piece even as it was planning the route through Fayette County. However, the PTC decided to route Turnpike 43 around Brownsville on an entirely new path.

Path of the newest US Business Route in Pennsylvania.
Path of the newest US Business Route in Pennsylvania

Make sure to send all gifts and cards to PennDOT District 12-0 to congratulate them on their new bouncing baby business route.

Business US 40 (Brownsville)

 
Categories
Events News

Community Day on the Expressway

Today was the latest of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s “Community Day on the Expressway” events. This is the third one which I have attended. However, this is the first one I went to for a section of roadway which I was also at its groundbreaking ceremony.

The festivities took place just outside of Uniontown on the newest section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway. It will open to traffic on October 23.  These are nice events that the PTC holds prior to opening a new section of roadway. They give the public to chance to preview the new roadway.

Today’s “Community Day” took place at Exit 18. It was held in partnership with the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, Steps to a Healthier PA – Fayette County, the National Road Heritage Corridor, and construction manager TCMS-Maguire.

Steps to a Healthier PA – Fayette County sponsored a Family Fun Walk. Although it began at 9 AM, it lasted the rest of the day. The public was welcome to walk, jog, or bike on eight miles of the road. However, school buses provided a quicker tour if you did not want to use those options to view Turnpike 43. After that, the next part of the event was the “Modes of Transportation” parade at 10 AM.

Fifteen vendors selling food and crafts lined the road. A children’s area had balloon art from Airheads Balloon Art to keep the kids busy. The Rainbow Express trackless train was available for them to ride around on the roadway nearby.  In addition, there were informational booths from the Turnpike Commission and the National Road Heritage Corridor.

Vendors of all kinds line the northbound lanes of PA Turnpike 43 for Community Day on the Expressway.
Food vendors, informational booths, and a children’s area were provided
The Rainbow Express trackless train was one of several activities for children during Community Day on the Expressway.
The Rainbow Express trackless train was one of several activities for children

Residents Get Close-Up View of Expressway – Uniontown Herald Standard

 
Categories
Events News

PA Turnpike 43 Groundbreaking Ceremony

I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Uniontown to Brownsville section of PA Turnpike 43/Mon-Fayette Expressway today.  As a result, its exit guide and Mon-Fayette Expressway/Southern Beltway Progress Map have both been updated.  Pictures of the ceremony are on the PA Turnpike 43 page.

This was the first groundbreaking I have attended, and it was basically what I expected. Local and state officials there to give speeches on how each had a hand in helping to bring the Mon-Fayette Expressway to fruition.  Then there was the ceremonial first spade toss of dirt to signal the start of construction followed by a catered lunch for all who attended that included Stromboli, hot wings, BBQ wings, vegetables, cake, and cookies.  I gave it four stars out of five.

One of the speakers was Senator J. Barry Stout, who is one of many state officials who spearheaded the project.  The senator also happens to be the Chairman of the State Transportation Committee.  After the ceremony I introduced myself and asked if I could interview him.  He gave me his business card and told me to call his office sometime.

Once the speeches from the various state and local officials were over, it was time to get down to business. We left the tent where we had lunch and headed out to the spot where the ceremony would take place.

Groundbreaking ceremony on April 1, 2006 in Uniontown for the section of PA Turnpike 43 between US 119 and Brownsville.
PA Turnpike 43 groundbreaking ceremony outside of Uniontown

Mon/Fayette Expressway – Uniontown to Brownsville Area – Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

 
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