New portion of Pennsylvania Turnpike to open to public on Friday
Nearly four decades after the project was first launched, a new portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Southern Beltway will open to motorists on Friday. Turnpike officials are hopeful the road will make it easier to travel by car in the region.
The 13-mile section of road lies between U.S. Route 22 and Interstate 79 and leads to the county line between Allegheny and Washington counties. It also connects to a 6-mile stretch of the Turnpike near the Pittsburgh Airport known as the Findlay Connector.
“It’s not very often in the world of transportation that you are able to construct a brand-new highway. And that’s what this is,” said Rosanne Placey, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
According to officials, the Beltway could help ease traffic congestion on the Parkway West, I-79, and State Route 50. It could also provide additional and safer road access for emergency response vehicles that previously traveled on rural, two lane roads.
Placey said the $800 million project could be a catalyst for economic development in the area.
“It provides better access to the sites being developed along the Energy Commerce and Innovation Corridor, which is [a] largely untapped private, commercial, and industrial area near the Pittsburgh airport,” she said.
“We do anticipate that it will be used as businesses develop out that way. It’ll certainly be used as people go back and forth to the airport. And it really does cut down travel time anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes by getting on the Beltway there.”
But as with all roads, there could be some difficulties in the days and weeks after the Southern Beltway opens.
“A roadway operation is not smooth sailing,” said Placey. “We’re a 24/7 operation.”
She warned that drivers should be on the lookout for deer and other animals that live in the area.
“Vehicle traffic should be cautious because you’re likely to connect with wildlife as much as other vehicles,” she said.
The toll road will open to the public in stages throughout the day. It should be fully open by the late afternoon.