Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E   

Contact:  Joe Agnello, (724) 755-5262, (724) 755-5142 fax
                e-mail: jagnello@paturnpike.com

February 25, 2000


UNIONTOWN – Federal, state and local officials on Wednesday, March 1, will celebrate the opening of the Fayette County side of the Mon/Fayette Expressway’s Mason Dixon Link.

A public ceremony will begin at 10 am on the Mon/Fayette Expressway (Pa. Route 43) near the Big Six Road interchange in Georges Township. The event will be held just south of the new $140 million toll road’s connection to a four-mile Mon/Fayette/Route 43 component that was built by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) and opened in November 1992 as the Chadville Demonstration Project.

This newest part of an expressway system that eventually will link Pittsburgh (at Interstate 376) and Morgantown, W.Va. (at Interstate 68) is the first Mon/Fayette project to be constructed by the Turnpike Commission and extends nearly eight miles to the West Virginia border. The 6.5-mile section between Gans Road and Big Six Road will open for regular traffic at 3 pm Wednesday.

Motorists will be able to enter and exit the new expressway at Big Six Road, Rubles Mill Road and Gans Road. There are four toll collection lanes on the ramps at the Rubles Mill Road interchange. Two lanes are for customers entering the southbound lanes. Two others are for customers exiting the northbound lanes.

All other traffic will be tolled at a six-lane mainline plaza approximately one mile north of Rubles Mill Road. Tolls range from 50 cents (at Rubles Mill Road) and 75 cents (at the mainline plaza) for two-axle vehicles to $2.50 and $3.75 respectively for six-axle vehicles.

Automated multi-mode machines in each of the 10 fare collection lanes will accept $1 and $5 bills, coins (including dollar coins) and Pa. Turnpike commercial cards. Each unit will issue change and, if the customer chooses, a receipt. Coin baskets will accept exact fare in coins only or coins paid in combination with a bill.

All functions are on two levels to provide equal convenience for drivers sitting high or low. As a vehicle enters a toll collection lane sensors will classify the vehicle and the correct fare will appear on the machine’s message viewer. Fare collection will be totally automated. However, the Turnpike will employ regular staff to load machines and provide assistance.

The Turnpike Commission also is introducing a new solar-powered cellular call box on the new expressway that will allow live voice communication with a radio operator. Each box provides simple instructions. And, provided the caller pushes the "call activation" button, the radio operator can verify the location even if the caller does not speak.

Call boxes where motorists can report accidents, breakdowns and other problems to the 24-hour Turnpike Operations Center are a fixture on the 500-plus-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike system. Typically, they are pole-mounted on the edge of the berm and spaced one mile apart.

Call boxes deployed elsewhere on the Turnpike system allow the caller to signal the type of assistance desired by pushing one of four buttons ("service," "police," "medical," "accident"). The signal is relayed to the Operations Center via a repeater system. Radio operators immediately dispatch the appropriate responder(s) to the location.

The Turnpike Commission’s contracted responders for the Mason Dixon Link are Laurel Ambulance Service of Uniontown (emergency medical services), Point Marion Volunteer Fire Department (southern half) and Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department (northern half). Joby’s Gulf of Uniontown is the authorized vehicle service provider.


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649