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


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

October 19, 2000



Another part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s evolving Mon/Fayette Expressway system between Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va. has cleared a critical environmental hurdle.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) yesterday signed the Record of Decision for the Uniontown-to-Brownsville Area Mon/Fayette Expressway Project. Presentation of the environmental clearance was made today by FHWA Pennsylvania Division Administrator James A. Cheatham at a meeting of the Mon/Fayette Expressway & Southern Beltway Projects Executive Committee near Washington, Pa.

FHWA’s action formally designates the selected alignment (North Alternative) and allows the PTC to proceed with final design. Final design, including the drawing of formal right-of-way lines, is the detailed engineering necessary to move the 15-mile project to construction.

The process will begin soon because the Turnpike Commission on October 3, 2000, authorized the negotiation and execution of design services contracts with nine firms. They are Mackin Engineering Company, Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers Inc., L. Robert Kimball & Associates, Ammann & Whitney, The EADS Groups Inc., Frederic R. Harris Inc., GAI Consultants Inc., HDR Engineering Inc. and HNTB Corporation.

The selected alignment runs north of and generally parallel to U.S. Route 40 from an interchange with Pa. Route 51 and U.S. Route 119 in North Union Township, Fayette County. Just east of Brownsville Borough, it crosses to the south of U.S. Route 40 in Luzerne Township and then crosses a new Monongahela River bridge to a northwest terminus at Pa. Route 88 in Centerville Borough, Washington County.

Both end points have direct links to existing north-south expressways that would serve as parts of the Mon/Fayette system.

Between the end points, four interchanges will be built in Fayette County. They will be sited at a relocated Fan Hollow Road and a relocated Old Pittsburgh Road in North Union Township, at Searights Crossroads in Menallen Township, on a new Brownsville Connector in Redstone Township that will tie in to the "stub end" of the four-lane U.S. Route 40, and at a relocated State Route 4003 (Bull Run Road) in Luzerne Township.

The purpose of the project is to provide safer, more efficient vehicular travel between Uniontown and the Brownsville area by improving access, addressing projected capacity requirements and drawing traffic (particularly trucks) off U.S. Route 40 and onto a modern facility.

The project also is being designed to support the efforts of the National Road Heritage Park, which are to make U.S. Route 40 less of a major transportation artery and more a local corridor and tourist destination.

By design year 2025, average daily traffic on the new expressway is projected to reach 11,000 vehicles while Route 40 traffic volumes that would average more than 20,000 vehicles daily without the expressway are projected at half that number.

The Turnpike Commission recommended the North Alternative over the South Alternative (primarily south of U.S. Route 40 after crossing the National Road near Uniontown) because:

  • it provides more direct access to and from the Brownsville area, an important factor in raising prospects for the Brownsville area's economic revitalization.
  • it is closer and provides better access to support development along Pa. Route 51 and U.S. Route 119 in the Uniontown area, existing four-lane highways that traverse areas with municipal water and sewage service.
  • it requires fewer residential displacements, impacts fewer acres of wetlands and would have substantially less impact on streams and associated habitats.
  • its underpass of U.S. Route 40 will be less intrusive to the National Road in terms of visual impacts and noise.
  • it serves a Fayette County development site just west of Uniontown that has been designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ), via an improved Fan Hollow Road/Duck Hollow Road. No prime county land is required for the expressway's right-of-way.
  • its estimated construction costs are about $40 million less than comparable costs for the South Alternative ($360 million versus $400 million).

The selected alignment will require an estimated 71 residential displacements and five commercial displacements. Almost all of the residential units are owner-occupied and none of the residential structures that appear to fall within the right-of-way for the expressway contain more than two family units.

Business displacements are Marsolino Construction Company, Penn West Construction Machinery, Signs and Designs, Gudac Bowling Lanes, and a storage garage for a proposed privately-owned Denbo Transportation Museum.

A Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) maintenance facility located in Menallen Township also will be displaced.

The Commonwealth's current financial commitment ($73.5 million) is to advance the project through final design and right-of-way acquisition. Construction would follow, pending the availability of funding.


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