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Events News

Community Day on the Findlay Connector

Today was the Turnpike Commission’s Community Day on the Findlay Connector. The official name is the Southern Beltway and the designation is PA Turnpike 576. It was not my first visit, but my second visit to the completed roadway.  However, unlike during the National meet back in August, the State Police did not chase me off the expressway this time.

This Community Day event reminded me of the first one I attended in 1993. That was the first one the Turnpike Commission did prior to PA Turnpike 66 opening.

There were things there for everyone to enjoy during what the PTC called a “once-in-a-lifetime” event. For me, it was a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I cite the aforementioned trip down the unopened expressway that came to an abrupt end.

This time around everyone was allowed onto the expressway and not just attendees to a road enthusiast meet. Booths of all kind lined what are the northbound lanes at the US 30 interchange, or Exit 2. Food booths provided quick meals for those who attended. The West Allegheny and Moon Area high school bands and West Hills Symphony Orchestra performed for the crowd. The PTC had a booth with information on the entire Southern Beltway project, Turnpike maps, and E-ZPass applications.  Port Authority buses made continual loops of the six-mile-long section so people to see the expressway. At the same time, others hiked, jogged, and biked the alignment.

Festivities taking place near Exit 2 for Community Day on the Findlay Connector.
Community Day on the Expressway festivities at Exit 2

I finished my Community Day on the Findlay Connector taking a ride down the expressway. I have always enjoyed these open houses that the PTC hold, and not just for the free stuff. Hopefully they continue to be a part of the PTC’s public relations “tool box.”

Getting Around: Did You Too Miss the Turnpike’s Party on Route 576? – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
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Events News

National Road Enthusiast Meet (Day 3)

The final day of the first National Road Enthusiast Meet featured differing modes of transportation.  We started by taking PA 60 into the city for a cruise on the Gateway Clipper to see some of the numerous bridges as well as some of the sights along the Allegheny River.  Afterwards, we had lunch at the Red Star Tavern in Station Square. It is here where I had announced a mere 364 days earlier of my intention to hold a National meet.

Back on land we turned back to the west to take in PA Turnpike 576 at the US 30 interchange.  Once on the expressway right-of-way itself, I heard what sounded like a car traveling at a quick pace.  Turning around as we headed northbound, I didn’t see anything until I looked over the median mound that is common-place on Turnpike Commission extensions only to see the “Christmas Tree” light bar of a State Police cruiser.  He caught up to us and only said to turn around; however, I was only yards away from getting Adam Prince the first PA Turnpike 576 northern terminus picture.  Considering the alternative, we were very fortunate.  Sheesh, even on foot, I get pulled over by the Pennsylvania State Police!

PA Turnpike 576 construction was one of the stops on Day 3 of the National Road Enthusiast Meet.
PA Turnpike 576 at Exit 2 facing westbound

The final event of the three day meet was to take in a ball game at the site of the 77th All Star Game at PNC Park.  Surprisingly the Pirates managed to win 3-2 over the St. Louis Cardinals, while the Steelers playing NFL’s version on the same day lost.

After the game, we returned to the Comfort Inn on Steubenville Pike where I thanked all for attending and being part of the first National Road Enthusiast Meet.  Then we called it a night and went on our respective ways.

States represented/number attended:
California – 1
Georgia – 1
Kentucky – 1
Maryland – 1
Michigan – 2
New York – 2
Pennsylvania – 2
Tennessee – 2
Virginia – 1
West Virginia – 1

 
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News

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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