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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)

 
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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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