Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission seeks investors for Expressway

| 3/5/2008

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is soliciting for a private investor to build 50 miles of tolled expressways in Allegheny and Washington counties.

The five-member decision-making body voted Tuesday, March 4, to issue “requests for expressions of interest” from private companies to build new sections of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway near Pittsburgh.

A turnpike spokesman told Land Line that officials have yet to determine which companies will receive the requests for proposals. No deadline has been set for when the proposals will be due.

Together, the two extension projects carry a price tag of $5.2 billion, officials stated in a press release. The Turnpike Commission built existing portions of both expressways using $78 million in federal funding dating back to 1987, according to a project overview posted on the commission’s Web site.

Click here to read the project overview.

The proposed new section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway would run 24 miles from state Route 51 in Jefferson Hills to Interstate 376 in Pittsburgh.

The proposal includes two projects to extend the Southern Beltway by 26 miles in Robinson Township and Union Township and to connect Pittsburgh International Airport to U.S. Route 22.

Commissioners have said that they hope the projects will be completed by late 2011 or early 2012.

Another section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway is currently under construction from Uniontown to Brownsville in Washington County using traditional funding. It is slated to open this fall.

Officials in Pennsylvania are embroiled in a battle about transportation funding with two major proposals on the table relating to tolls. One seeks for new tolls to be placed on I-80 under the operation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and the other is for the Pennsylvania Turnpike to be leased to private investors who would be allowed to collect tolls.

The Turnpike Commission has had the authority to enter into public-private partnerships for new toll roads since 1985.

– By David Tanner, staff writer