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Mon-Fayette Expressway nears 40th anniversary. That's not a typo.

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Next month will bring the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the first section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, 1.3 miles near West Brownsville. Then-Gov. Milton Shapp presided, calling the highway “a new lifeline … carrying economic development and hopes for continued future growth.” The event drew all of six paragraphs of coverage in The Pittsburgh Press, which noted that the highway “is planned eventually to run to Pittsburgh.”

Forty years later, 60 miles have been built and opened from near Morgantown, W.Va., to Jefferson Hills, but the running to Pittsburgh part still hasn’t happened and may never. A colleague points out that the MFE is a great place for newer drivers to practice driving at highway speeds without the bother of any traffic.

Incidentally, with the Jan. 6 toll increase, a trip over the entire expressway costs $6.40 in cash or $4.76 if you use E-ZPass. There are four mainline toll plazas.


We’ve reported several times about how expansion of the Panama Canal is rippling back to Western Pennsylvania, with several major projects to expand the capacity of the freight rail system, including the one that has torn up Tunnel Park at SouthSide Works. Bigger canal = bigger ships = more cargo off-loading at East Coast ports.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post’s William Booth presented this excellent overview of the canal project and how ports are scrambling to prepare.


The Pennsylvania Turnpike is likely to be part of the upcoming discussion of transportation funding in the state, with Gov. Tom Corbett expected soon to unveil his proposals to raise new revenue for roads, bridges and transit. A key question will be whether to change or repeal Act 44, which requires the turnpike to pay $450 million a year to PennDOT for use on other roads, bridges and transit systems. Critics like Auditor General Jack Wagner say the requirement is plunging the turnpike toward insolvency; others argue that toll dollars should stay on the pike as a matter of principle. The annual payments are why the turnpike has raised tolls for five straight years and expects to continue doing so every January through the year 2057. It’s a worthy topic of debate. What is not worth arguing about is the relative pittance the turnpike is losing by allowing its employees to drive free on the toll road.
Port Authority says a section of the West Busway will close on weeknights from midnight to 5:30 a.m. for work in the Berry Street Tunnel. A handful of trips on the 28X Airport Flyer, G2 West Busway All Stops and G3 Moon Flyer will be detoured, with temporary stops near the Ingram and Sheraden stations.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced that all driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Jan. 19, through Monday, Jan. 21, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Customers will have access to a variety of services online through PennDOT’s website, www.dmv.state.pa.us, which operates 24/7. Services include driver’s license and photo ID renewals, vehicle registration renewals, changes of address and exam scheduling.

roadworkahead

Slide repairs will begin Jan. 21 on Westinghouse Avenue in North Versailles. The road will be closed between Mahoning Street/East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard and Route 148 from 7 a.m. that day around the clock through mid-May. About 13,600 vehicles use the road on a typical day.

Inbound Route 28 will be reduced to one lane from the 40th Street Bridge to East Ohio Street starting at 8 p.m. nightly and continuing through Feb. 3. Work concludes by 5 a.m. daily. Brief stoppages in both directions also are possible.

McKnight Road may have single-lane traffic at the bridge over Ingomar Road in McCandless from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Jan. 25 for bridge repairs.

The westbound right lane on the Jerome Street Bridge, which carries West Fifth Avenue/Lysle Boulevard over the Yough River in McKeesport, will be closed at times from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for gas line maintenance.

Tree trimming may cause traffic shifts and lane closures at the Parkway West’s Banksville Road interchange from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays starting Wednesday and continuing into early February. No ramps will close and parkway traffic won’t be affected, according to PennDOT.

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