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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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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

 
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Events News

Winter 2007 SWPA Meet

Saturday was the latest edition of the longest running road enthusiast meets. I’d like to thank all who traveled both near and far to attend the Winter 2007 SWPA Meet.

The meet began at 12 PM at Garfield’s in the Uniontown Mall on US 40 near the US 119 interchange.  The food and conversation was excellent as always.  I provided each attendee with a copy of the 2007 PennDOT map.

After the lunch portion, we headed down US 40 to see the new Brownsville Connector.  We decided to make the Searights Toll House the first stop, and it’s best that we did.  I noticed that one of the windows appeared to be open.  Upon further examination, it wasn’t open. Rather someone had taken one of the bricks from the steps and smashed the window.  In addition, there were rips and pulls in several placed in the screen on the screen door at the entrance.  After calling 911, they informed me that the police would investigate and the proprietors would be notified.

Searights Toll House was one of the stops during the Winter 2007 SWPA Meet.
Searights Toll House

The next stop was to see the new US 40 connector that just opened east of Brownsville.  What struck the attendees of the 2006 gathering was the former partially constructed interchange just north of PA 166, where US 40 traffic would turn to continue, has been replaced with an at-grade intersection.  Even though last year, we noticed grading for what appeared to be the other entrance/exit ramps had taken place which is noted on the US 40 page.  Also, PA 166’s northern terminus has not moved to intersect the new US 40 alignment. The route still ends at the former intersection a block to the south.  Grading at the future PA Turnpike 43 interchange, which is currently a temporary end until the loop around Brownsville opens, is complete.

On the way back to Uniontown, we took a small detour over a new connector road built between PA 51 and US 40. It will serve an interchange of PA Turnpike 43 and is five lanes wide (four travel lanes and a center turn lane). This roadway is located through the area where I attended the groundbreaking for the Uniontown/Brownsville section.

We took PA 43/PA Turnpike 43 south and stopped at the current end at Gans Road. Afterwards, we continued south into West Virginia to see how they are progressing on their section.  From PA 857/WV Secondary 857, it is possible to see the bridge on the state line is complete. It includes a “Welcome to West Virginia” sign gantry.  Turning off onto Morgan’s Run Road we had an up-close look at another pair of spans taking shape and saw a completed section of WV 43 with signage already installed.  Back at 857 we continued south to the Cheat Lake interchange. There we saw the construction taking place in preparation of the directional “T” interchange between Interstate 68 and WV 43.

After turning around we headed back to Garfield’s. There we said our goodbyes, Merry Christmases, Happy New Years, and headed to our respective destinations after the Winter 2007 SWPA Meet.

 
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