State Lawmakers Call On President Biden To Fund Mon Valley Transportation Projects
Ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, where he’s expected to detail his infrastructure and jobs plan, a group of Democratic lawmakers representing western Pennsylvania are urging him to remember the Mon Valley.In a letter published Monday, Reps. Austin Davis, Summer Lee, Brandon Markosek and Nick Pisciottano called on the president and Congress to fund two transportation projects: the Mon-Fayette Expressway and an extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway.
They said Mon Valley communities have struggled with transportation for decades, and felt “cut off from the rest of the region.” They added, in the letter, that the projects could create 21,000 jobs.
Both projects carry significant costs, but it’s the expressway that worries many. The idea was first floated in the 1950s and costs have ballooned in the decades since. The final 14-mile leg from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville is expected to cost more than a billion dollars. The money has largely come from the oil franchise tax, which took a major hit during the pandemic. The Jefferson Hills to Duquesne section has been delayed until 2024, and the future of the last link is uncertain.
Cost aside, many say the project no longer meets communities’ needs, and that there are better ways to invest in the Mon Valley.
Lee acknowledged those concerns on Twitter and said she welcomes discussion. She said she wanted to join with her colleagues to advocate for the Mon Valley, but also wants to be sure to get communities the help they really need.