Mon/Fayette Expressway Projects - PA Route 51 to I-376
This PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project will extend the current Mon Fayette Expressway system 14-miles north from PA Rt. 51 in Jefferson Hills through West Mifflin, Dravosburg, Duquesne, Turtle Creek and Wilkins before connecting to the Parkway East, I-376, near Thompson Run Road in Monroeville.
Originally, the proposed PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project included a leg that would extend the expressway from East Pittsburgh to Bates Street in Oakland. The Oakland option has since been dropped because of financial constraints as well as the required number of residential and business displacements and the numerous environmental impacts.
A reevaluation of the Environmental Impact Statement is required because of this proposed change. The reevaluation started in January 2016 and final design also resumed in January 2016 after a seven-year suspension due to lack of funding.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What is the Mon/Fayette Expressway?
The Mon/Fayette Expressway (MFE) system consists of four independent but interconnected projects between I-68 near Morgantown, WV and I-376 in Monroeville, PA. Today, the MFE is completed and open to traffic from I-68 in WV to PA Route 51 in Jefferson Hills Borough in southeastern Allegheny County creating 60 continuous miles of expressway. Completion of the remaining project, PA Rt. 51 to I-376, will complete the 74 mile MFE system allowing continuous travel from West Virginia north to an interchange with the Parkway East in Monroeville.
The Pennsylvania Legislature assigned responsibility for development of the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the engineering and environmental impact studies necessary to complete the fourth and final project of the Mon/Fayette Expressway system in Allegheny County have recently resumed. The PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project will extend the current MFE system 14-miles north from PA Rt. 51 in Jefferson Hills through West Mifflin, Dravosburg, Duquesne, Turtle Creek and Wilkins before connecting to the Parkway East, I-376, near Thompson Run Road in Monroeville.
Originally, the proposed PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project included a leg that would extend the expressway from East Pittsburgh to Bates Street in Oakland. The Oakland option has since been dropped because of financial constraints as well as the required number of residential and business displacements and the numerous environmental impacts. A reevaluation of the Environmental Impact Statement is required because of this proposed change. The reevaluation started in January 2016 and final design also resumed in January 2016 after a seven year suspension due to lack of funding.
During the engineering design process and through construction, the PTC will make every effort to make project information available through an extensive public outreach effort.
Why is this new expressway being built?
The Mon/Fayette Expressway system is a regional transportation improvement project that has been in development for more than 25 years. The economic decline of the steel, coal and coke industries in the Mon Valley in the 1970’s and 80’s brought about a refocused effort to develop better highway access and mobility to help spur redevelopment efforts in the area. Today, the new expressway system has not only provided much needed access to these areas, it provides a faster and safer travel option for traffic, particularly commercial vehicles, that once used the existing arteries such as PA Rt. 51, 88 and 857 as well as U.S. Routes 119, 70 and 40.
The final leg of the expressway will further improve the local transportation network and is designed to provide safe, efficient transportation improvements from PA Rt. 51 to I-376 in Monroeville.
The PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project will complete the 74-mile MFE system and further reduce travel times from areas south of Pittsburgh and will also encourage redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites, encourage revitalization of neighborhoods and relieve local traffic congestion on roadways in the southern and eastern portions of Allegheny County. The completion of the project will also complement the regional transportation network.
What is the current status of the Rt. 51 to I-376 Project?
In 2009, the PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project was halted due to financial constraints. In 2014 the project was revisited and the decision was made to drop the East Pittsburgh to Oakland leg of the expressway. The amended design also includes a narrower median, realignment of a bridge over the Monongahela River at Duquesne and a cashless all-electronic tolling system. The estimated cost of the revised project is $1.7 billion. Currently, the PTC is developing a reevaluation of the Environmental Impact Statement and concurrently resuming engineering design throughout the corridor. At this time no construction timetable has been established for individual portions of the project.
How is this project being funded?
Act 89 of 2013 has provided the necessary funding to advance the project through design, right-of-way acquisition and construction.
What occurs during this phase of the development process?
During the current phase the PTC will collect data and obtain information on the possible environmental impacts such as historic structures, streams, wetlands, etc. in order to determine significant changes that may have occurred between 2004 and today. Prior to accessing private property, the PTC will send “Notice of Intent to Enter” letters to all property owners within the boundaries of the proposed study area from PA Route 51 to I-376 in Monroeville. These letters fulfill a legal requirement that will allow the project team to undertake fieldwork on private property as permitted under Pennsylvania statute. Receiving a Notice of Intent to Enter letter is not a determination that your land will be needed for construction. At this point, access is only needed to complete the detailed engineering and environmental studies necessary to advance the project through the environmental reevaluation and final design.
When the environmental reevaluation is completed, right-of-way plans will be completed, right-of-way acquisition will begin and the final plans for construction will be prepared. When final design is complete, the footprint of the highway is defined. This will include the identification of property that is necessary for the construction of the expressway. Engineers also will be making determinations such as where the expressway will be elevated and how it will tie in or otherwise affect existing roads. During final design, work will continue to identify and refine impacts to homes, businesses and the environment.
If the PTC needs to acquire my property, business or residence for the project what should I know about the Right-of-Way Acquisition Process?
The PTC is responsible for building and maintaining roadways throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The PTC will provide the full measure of just compensation to all who are entitled under the law. In some instances, the PTC will need only portions of property. There are numerous protections afforded to individuals, this includes businesses, residential owner/occupants and renters that may be displaced.
If your property should, in fact, be needed as part of the PA Rt. 51 to I-376 Project, a PTC right-of-way representative will contact you. In addition, an extensive public involvement process that includes public meetings, community meetings and other information meetings will be in place. The PTC will make every effort to keep you informed and answer any questions you may have during final design and through construction.
If your property is required for the project, you will be contacted as the right-of-way acquisition process begins. Right-of-way acquisition team members, including an appraiser, and if necessary, a relocation advisor will personally visit you.
Will the Expressway reduce property values of residential and commercial sites?
Overall, the Expressway should have a positive effect on property values. In general, properties with convenient access to interstate and primary arterial roadways are desirable and increase in value compared to similar properties lacking efficient highway access.
Will the Expressway increase noise in residential neighborhoods?
As part of the project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) studies, noise monitoring and predictive modeling were done for properties that would be in close proximity to the proposed roadway. Those studies indicated the project, in general, would not produce noise levels exceeding federal and state noise criteria. These noise investigations will be revisited as part of the Final Design process. Where noise criteria are determined to be exceeded, the PTC will investigate noise abatement options and incorporate them into the project design where they are found to reduce noise and provide a substantial benefit at a reasonable cost.
What is the project schedule?
The environmental reevaluation is scheduled for completion by mid-2017. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin in 2017 but, because of the large number of properties involved, will take three years to complete. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022.