PITTSBURGH - Pennsylvania's Route 576 has served since its opening in October 2006 as a quick tollway for Steubenville and Weirton-area residents to get quickly to the Pittsburgh International Airport.
In a few years, traffic will be increasing on the road as construction advances it 12 more miles across Washington and Allegheny counties to link up with Interstate 79.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced Monday it has awarded contracts to two firms for work related to the 12-mile extension of the tollway, which, like the existing Findlay Connector, is part of the proposed Southern Beltway project.
CDR Maguire Inc. of Pittsburgh will manage the construction of the 12-mile segment, which the turnpike commission said is expected to include several construction contracts at a total cost of $550 million.
Mosites Construction Co. of Pittsburgh has been awarded the first construction contract, for a major bridge carrying the Southern Beltway over U.S. Route 22. The bridge will serve as a part of the existing Route 22-Route 576 interchange. The contract is for $14 million and construction will begin in the spring.
William K. Lieberman, commission chairman, said, "When opened to traffic, the Route 22-to-I-79 project will create economic opportunities in Findlay, Robinson, Mount Pleasant, Cecil and North and South Fayette townships. It will provide better access to sites being developed by the Allegheny County Airport Authority and a direct link from I-79 to more than 4,000 acres of private, untapped commercial and industrial lands."
The segment also will provide an alternate route to the busy Parkway West segment between Route 22 and I-79.
When completed, the segment will extend the highway to 19 total miles. The turnpike commission estimates traffic on the existing Findlay Connector - that lightly used toll road connecting Route 22 to the airport area - will double to about 6,500 vehicles per day.
The Southern Beltway still would need a third major phase to be completed as planned. That segment would link I-79 to the existing Mon-Fayette Expressway, southeast of the city, near Finleyville. No alignment or timeframe for the final 12.5-mile segment of the beltway, which is currently estimated to cost an additional $700 million, has been finalized.