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Mon-Fayette Expressway might never run to Pittsburgh

Well, it looks like 4.5 billion for the mon-fayette might be too much money. woohoo (but they never should have built the mon-fay at all).

2010-04-27 11:44:47

I'm gonna remember that price tag every time someone tells me to get off Piney Fork Rd and get on the Montour trail.

2010-04-27 12:22:10

Well, we do enjoy some of the lowest tax rates in the world. And here's what that affords us.

2010-04-27 13:38:37

This was an awful plan. They were going to run it along the river through Hazelwood, and tear down duck hollow.

The city is not "progressive" however the fact that they have designated riverfront property as parks, and this is not happening, is a really good thing.

2010-04-27 14:00:53

Steevo, I'm not a proponent of more highways in general, but in this case it may have been worked out more or less the way the stretch of route 28 between the North Side and Millvale is being done. That is to say they would have likely constructed a trail along with the highway. And some of the plans call for literally elevating the highway around the bend in the Mon over the railroad tracks and under the Homestead High-Level.

Regardless, this plan is a loser for the Hazelwood area, and I think accommodating it through improving the 2nd Ave/Irvine St. corridor through the town would be the best alternative.

2010-04-27 14:18:43

It was also slated to run through Braddock, and basically destroy what is left, so this is good news.

Incidentally, if anyone has any opportunity to support what is being done by Mayor John Fetterman in Braddock, by all means, DO IT! He's really something, and he's trying some great things.

2010-04-27 14:22:09

The road is a zombie, and cannot be killed, no matter how many times you kill it and pronounce it dead. The biggie here is that it HAS passed all the environmental clearances. All they need is the money. And don't be too surprised if, in all this Act 44 post-mortem, that they find it.

(You think $300M for a river tunnel is a lot? This is $6,000M!)

Minds have not been changed. The people in the Mon Valley still want this thing. Until and unless you change those minds, we'll still be looking at this zombie.

Remember the initials: MF-SOB. Mon-Fayette/SOuthern Beltway. That's the damn thing's NAME. Really.

2010-04-27 15:53:33

By comparison, when I last looked at the TIP, fully funding every single bike and pedestrian project in SWPA was something like $50M. By further comparison, that's maybe one interchange on a big road.

2010-04-27 16:04:20

$4.5 billion for a stupid road! Holy crap that's nuts.

2010-04-27 16:16:38

More to the point: $4,500,000,000 for a road without an associated bike path?

I don't care if it goes through or not - Pittburgh has a need for freeway out south, after all. But it shouldn't go without a bike path.

2010-04-27 16:27:42

No, I'll take the hard line and say we just don't need the road. In 1985, before they started work on I-279, Cranberry Twp was farmland and the North Side was still in pretty good shape. Also note the 3,200 homes and businesses in the East St Valley that got decimated to build it.

They build that thing, we lose Junction Hollow, we lose Duck Hollow, we lose Braddock, and any trail we have, we either lose or are shoved up cheek-and-jowl with an interstate highway.

Not only no, hell no. You want freight moved, we have rivers and railroads. You need better commuting, bring back the PATrain and make transit more workable. You need better roads, fix what we have already.

Lose any idea that any piece of this road is needed. Keep the zombie dead.

2010-04-27 16:50:59

It's so odd. We don't have enough money to maintain what we have and we don't have enough money to build something we can't even maintain once it's built.

2010-04-27 17:34:03

It's so odd. We don't have enough money to maintain what we have and we don't have enough money to build something we can't even maintain once it's built.

Agreed. Nothing like throwing good money after bad, AKA the sunk cost fallacy.

2010-04-27 17:44:12

i always liked this picture

2010-04-27 18:35:51

In a previous life I worked for a PR firm that had a contract to promote the public meetings, etc. surrounding the Mon/Fay and Southern Beltway. I was just a pee-on, but I was around the inside long enough to notice the whole thing was a big trough of cash for consultants, as well as an opportunity for politicians to make promises and pronouncements about with impunity - not to mention dole out cash within their districts on the many little contracts that make up such an enormous job.

It was never going to get built, won't ever be built - especially now the Turnpike is under such scrutiny, Barry Stout is out of the picture and individuals driving to work in cars is slipping out of vogue.

Guys like Dave Tessitor pushed back against Mon/Fay 15 years ago when "urban sprawl" was not fully understood.

The shame isn't the $4.5 billion that would have been spent, but the countless millions that HAS been spent.

2010-04-27 18:49:37

The road is dead and will never be resuscitated; the only nail missing from the coffin is its de-authorization by the legislature... but that will never happen, regardless of how unrealistic the project is, was, and always will be. The only way to really get the project off the books is to kill the Turnpike Commission. Ah well. It's still good news!

But I agree with AtLeastMyKids - the real tragedy is all the time and money wasted. Check out some of Jason Togyer's vitriol on the subject at

And check out PennFuture's project to support community-driven transportation planning in the Mon Valley here:

2010-04-27 19:24:52


I was opposed to the mofosob when Tom Murphy was first running for Mayor - in fact, my colleagues and I challenged him on it when he was campaigning at my office. There is no question that we all fully understood urban sprawl 20 years ago, and I am pretty sure that urban sprawl was understood in the 60s. It was just people who'd never been to New Jersey that didn't understand it.

2010-04-27 21:06:33

but I was around the inside long enough to notice the whole thing was a big trough of cash for consultants, as well as an opportunity for politicians to make promises and pronouncements about with impunity - not to mention dole out cash within their districts on the many little contracts that make up such an enormous job.

This is everything that is wrong with our country, You see it with mall and plaza development all the time. New plaza means new money for consultants and builders. What they leave behind is an ugly parking lot with a few chain businesses that moved from somewhere else that doesn't serve the community.

2010-04-28 13:22:12

And then they go bankrupt and leave an eyesore, in what used to at least be a field or a farm or something. Oh, and that "new money?" taxes, TIFs, taxpayer subsidized bonds...

There NEVER used to be empty storefronts in Squirrel Hill. Now there are several. But there's lots of parking at the Waterfront, and there will be lots of parking at BkSq (and I'm guessing that it will be cheap/free)

2010-04-28 13:34:52

One other really important piece missing from my "hard line" rant above:

You want livable communities in the Mon Valley, like Glassport and Monessen, with burgeoning development, make it possible to get around those communities with a bicycle and your own two feet!

At their base, those are tiny, workable, walkable, reasonably level communities, but pasted to the edge of a huge hill. They were developed when people walked to the factories. They would be IDEAL for ped/bike-oriented development. The 21st century will be fueled by people with an Internet connection and/or a satellite dish, and places with a low overhead (read: non-dependence on cars) will do just fine.

Build up the ped/bike infrastructure in all the little towns along the Mon Valley, and nobody is going to want the damn road. Bikes seem to work just fine among you South Side Slopes dwellers; no reason they can't work in Port Vue, too.

2010-04-28 15:38:13

Stu, to add; build the road, and Charleroi becomes "Cranberry South", no agriculture, and what's left of the river towns becomes crumbling ghettos for those unfortunates who can't afford to move out.

2010-04-28 15:44:27

But there's lots of parking at the Waterfront, and there will be lots of parking at BkSq (and I'm guessing that it will be cheap/free)

Big surprise that the two large store fronts that just closed on Murray have locations at The Waterfront?

Interestingly enough the exact opposite is happening with Target!

2010-04-28 15:59:32

@rsprake: Might I ask what (former) stores on Murray you're referring to? I also find it sad because Charleroi used to be somewhat of a big ticket trip because it was at the end of a major trolley line. I'm still convinced Pittsburgh could use a trolley "renaissance". Not that one out to Charleroi is practical today, but could be practical within the city and possibly inner suburbs. They could've funded a T extension to Century III and made it a regional transit center with the MFE money with hundreds of millions left over to fix and upgrade the EXISTING roadways.

2010-04-28 17:07:43

Barnes & Noble and Panera.

2010-04-28 17:12:48

And the shoe store from Bloomfield, Gordon's, moved to the waterfront too.

Can we count the Squirrel Hill theatre, too? granted it had been floundering for years, but Lowes put the baby in the bucket.

2010-04-28 17:32:35

Sure you can. Forward theatre used to be my theatre of choice but they let it fall apart. They could have helped themselves possibly by running smaller movies that Lowes won't play.

2010-04-28 18:41:40

That's really depressing to think about the migration of businesses from Squirrel Hill to the Waterfront.

2010-04-28 18:50:31

Sure you can. Forward theatre used to be my theatre of choice but they let it fall apart. They could have helped themselves possibly by running smaller movies that Lowes won't play.

Hence the fact that the Manor, owned by the same company as the Sq. Hill, is still making money.

@ieverhart I'm not sure what Panera's problem was, they seemed to do a good business. Too many locations? I do think that was B&N's problem, they are all over the place with huge stores. Coupled that with major weakness in the bookselling market. They tried to branch out into music right around the time the iPod killed CD sales and then DVD's but live streaming comes along...

Adele's--a fancy women's clothing store--moved from Squirrel hill down there several years ago but Pro Bikes and Alladins moved into that space. Squirrel Hill ebbs and flows a bit. I think the B&N sapce is just so large no one quite knows what do do with it.

2010-04-28 18:56:47

@jeffinpgh Unfortunately, the Manor is starting to show more and more mainstream movies, which is a bit disappointing as someone who always enjoyed the more eclectic fare there.

On the whole , I'm not too worried about Squirrel Hill - it should bounce back. I'm just glad on the whole that the MFSOB is (mostly) dead.

2010-04-28 19:11:13

I still the biggest flaw in the project is that there are no contingencies. The Turnpike Commission basically made this highway with the argument that, in order to be the most effective it has to link up with the Parkway East. No one at the commission ever had the brain think, "hmm, maybe we can't fund this whole thing and maybe the community opposition will be too great as well?" How come there is no "plan B" or concessions with the affected municipalities? Ok, so the highway basically won't go any further than it does now, is there anyway we can improve the existing infrastructure (Route 51, Route 885, Route 837, etc.) to maximize the highway as has been built to this point?

It slays me that this dinosaur of a project is still billed as the "golden honey" that will soothe all the Mon Valley's woes.

Stu is right, the Mon Valley is ripe for some fresh 21st century thinking.

2010-04-28 19:13:44

Unfortunately, the Manor is starting to show more and more mainstream movies Wondered if that would happen when they closed the other. You can tell how often I go to movies (pretty much never). Netflix just sent me a disc for the Wii that allows me to watch movies on demand on my TV.

2010-04-28 19:17:06

I've heard that the Panera (and maybe B&N) closed because of landlord/building maintenance/rent-type issues and not just because it wasn't doing enough business.

2010-04-28 20:59:55

It would be nice to have something else go in those spaces.

I am surprised by the number of vacant storefronts in Oakland too. Someone should open up a [non-dunkin] donut shop, please.

I also just read they are looking to build an Eat'n Park in Schenley plaza. (see: ). Personal dislike aside, am I the only one who finds it ironic they are going to build a historically drive-in restaurant in a park (noun, not verb). Why are we going to pave over public green space (that we just reclaimed from the pavement!) to build a corporate chain restaurant when there are huge empty buildings not even a block away. There must be something I'm missing.

2010-04-28 21:26:03

I also just read they are looking to build an Eat'n Park in Schenley

This was going to be more like Six Penn Kitchen (which Eat 'n Park also owns) and have a different name like Current, or Willow or something. But I guess the design was still Eat'n Parky from the article you linked. Also Eat'n Park is a locally based chain which matters to the folks that make these decisions. Orginally another "local chain" Atria was going to be in that park but I guess the economy took that plan out.

2010-04-28 22:24:05

Ahh, that makes more sense. Thanks.

Also, one of the little food vendor stalls in the plaza (the one nearest the tent) has been vacant for well over a year now, though it looks like someone was putting something in it last time I walked by.

2010-04-28 22:41:53

Something like that could be really great there so long as they do in fact integrate it with the park more. I am thinking something Mad Mex or micro brewery inspired with loads of outside seating.

2010-04-28 22:50:24

@Impala - Turnpike intended a "loaded gun" strategy: build the easier sections as they could and walk the project right up to the city, when they could play the "we've spent all of this money, and here we are" card.

Mon/Fay: RIP.

2010-04-29 01:13:10

Eat n Park - local company, buys local produce, etc., support tons of charitable events, relatively healthy menu (seriously!), and way kid-friendly.

Plus, it's not Kings. Kings sucks.

2010-04-29 01:16:06

While I love hearing news about the MFX not having funding to go through, I won't really ever feel at peace about it until it gets declared dead. I hate that it's basically shovel ready and could be built (if funding were made available) even though the road makes no sense. It was never a good idea, but it's an even worse idea now.

2010-04-29 02:18:52

How much taxpayer money got paid to all those consultants and contractors when they built that park? What, 7 years ago? And now they want to tear it up? WTF.

2010-04-29 02:31:04

Tear it up? I think their original plan when they redid Schenley Plaza was to include a restaurant in that location. It's just taken them a while to pick a company to make it happen.

2010-04-29 03:22:42

Future plans for the site include the restoration of the Magee Memorial Fountain in front of the Carnegie Library, and a full-service restaurant in the Plaza's northwest corner.

With the right company and design it could be an outstanding addition and great for tourists and locals alike. I say get r done.

2010-04-29 03:28:21

I couldn't tell from the article, are the art commission meetings public or closed?

Doug Cooper is a great dude. It would be outstanding if public input could entice E&P to develop a template for a really urban restaurant for public settings, really euro cafe, keep the family friendly menu and prices. Anybody have any "ins"?

I could envision a really kitschy "Eat'n Park" neon sign with the "Park" left intentionally burned out, just "Eat'n".

2010-04-29 11:22:19

Oh, I see. This would be a restaurant with no parking lot, just on the edge of the park. Hm.

2010-04-29 12:17:41

Sounds like a reasonable restaurant in an attractive setting with no additional parking: solid urbanism. It'll bring revenue to the Parks Department as well. Sounds good.

2010-04-29 12:58:35

why take the "park" out of the name? just change the meaning. Eat'n (the) Park?

2010-04-29 13:59:34

I could envision a really kitschy "Eat'n Park" neon sign with the "Park" left intentionally burned out, just "Eat'n".

Eat'n d'Park?

2010-04-29 14:00:33

Damn it, Erok beat me :(

2010-04-29 14:01:22

Eat n Park - local company, buys local produce, etc., support tons of charitable events, relatively healthy menu (seriously!), and way kid-friendly.

I agree with this. And Six Penn Kitchen downtown is consistently good. The good thing about having a company like Eat 'n Park open this restaruant is that they know what they are doing, and have the finances to keep it going at the start while folks figure out that it is there. Undercapitalization is the main reason small businesses fail in their first year and no business is more punishing of undercapitalization than a restaurant where you have to throw out (or donate) "inventory" you don't sell because it spoils. Having a well capitalized company do this means it will stick around long enough to do well.

Info about the Art Comission

2010-04-29 14:07:37

dwillen, i like your d'park. it sorta adds a french, parisian feel to it. now we just hope they erect a kitchy eiffel tower in the plaza and make their wait staff wear berets, and we'll really be on the way to our paris of appalachia title

2010-04-29 14:18:01

All excellent ideas!

Pittsburgh beret = babushka.

2010-04-29 14:41:58

As per the restaurant's name I believe I read that it was to be called "Currant". By the way, how did this thread go from the MFSOB to the restaurant in Schenley Plaza? LOL. Also yes the original plans for the plaza called for a small restaurant space, so no one go lambasting Eat 'n Park or the Parks/City or anything.

2010-04-29 15:02:05

I repeat: This road is a true zombie. No matter how many times you kill it, it still lives.

Here's the story.

Here's the quote that matters:

"Kirk said he supports raising the wholesale gas tax because a portion of its revenue is set aside for the Mon-Fayette Expressway, the Pittsburgh-to-West Virginia toll road. The final connections of the highway to Pittsburgh have stalled without funding for years."

And to reiterate what I said in an earlier post: "All they need is the money. And don't be too surprised if, in all this Act 44 post-mortem, that they find it."

2010-04-30 15:38:47

@Stu - your characterization is kind of unfair to zombies.

I think of the Mon/Fay as more of a cockroach.

2010-04-30 15:57:39

In that article stu just linked, I hate how they've got "Rendell said the state has 5,646 bridges that are rated "structurally deficient" and 10,000 miles of roadway behind schedule for repaving." And then they have that nimrod Kirk talking about setting aside taxes for MFX.

They're not even close to being able to maintain current infrastructure so why keep revisiting the MFX??? And if new infrastructure is to be built it should focus on rail and complete street networks, NOT a sprawl-way.

2010-04-30 18:41:34

@ALMKLM, true enough. Cincinnati had to deal with a cockroach once [YouTube], as did Chicago with an eggplant.

"Olé? That's dumb." *reference to 1st link*

2010-04-30 19:09:57

Joe Kirk has been pushing for that road for more than 20 years. A generation ago perhaps it was needed to resuscitate the Mon valley, but not today and certainly not tomorrow.

Also Barry Stout, state Senator who has been pushing for this highway, is retiring this year.

2010-05-02 17:02:18

Every time I ride with my friend to his place on California University's campus, I admit that it's a great way to get there from Pittsburgh. On the other side of the coin though, I don't see it as much more than a fast way between the city and California with virtually no one else on it when I ride with him. It's almost a ghost highway.

Let's only hope that all its proponents retire (or worse) long before the money materializes for the project. Or the Turnpike Commission gets disbanded.

2010-05-02 20:13:05

One year later, and here we are, with this damned road STILL leading the headlines.

Recently appointed Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman William K. Lieberman of Squirrel Hill called finishing the highway his top priority, saying it is vital to the region's economy.

"While it may be pie in the sky, I want to see (the highway) go all the way to Monroeville. We'll go mile marker by mile marker if we have to," Lieberman said.

The zombie lives. Kill the zombie.

2011-07-17 22:29:23

I don't think this project can be killed. Since it's shovel ready they truly can just go mile by mile if they have to with no further sign-offs to do.

2011-07-17 23:30:45

You know what's funny about the Bill Lieberman character? Williman Lieberman's business is in amusement, vending machines and ATMs

Apparently, selling arcade machines gives you the unique ability to manage the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

And his offhand comment of constructing the last section of MFSoB (thanks, Stu) mile by mile would turn $4Billion into $8Billion quite easily.

This moron, William Lieberman, is providing substantial fodder for those in Harrisburg who wish to dissolve the Commission and fold its assets into PennDOT.

2011-07-18 00:52:17

substantial fodder for those in Harrisburg who wish to dissolve the Commission and fold its assets into PennDOT.

Um, what are the reasons for not doing that? They seem to have very much overlapping areas of competency. Expertise at managing toll booths?

2011-07-18 03:47:46

Apparently, selling arcade machines gives you the unique ability to manage the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

i lol'd. hard.

2011-07-18 04:58:37

Wait, you mean political appointees are supposed to be qualified for their positions?


2011-07-18 10:26:44

"Last week's opening was a 4-mile segment from Interstate 68 east of Morgantown, W.Va., to the Pennsylvania line. Built over rugged terrain, it cost more than $150 million."

That's $37.5 million. PER. MILE.

If anyone needs a reason for why the TPC will never fold into PaDOT there it is. The corruption is WHY it will continue to exist. Too much money to spread around with too little accountability.

(However, unless the Commonwealth can find a way to "privatize," ie: sell-off to a chummy corporate interest, ie: BIG DONOR, the TPC and all of it's flaws is here to stay.)

2011-07-18 11:38:56

It's absurd.

2011-07-18 12:23:22

Sloaps Apparently, selling arcade machines gives you the unique ability to manage the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Experience with corruption?

2011-07-18 16:37:21

To be fair, each requires making coins from paper money.

2011-07-18 16:53:21

$48 million per mile?

what are they paving it with? solid gold bricks?

2012-12-21 19:24:27

They're using money that should be better spent fixing what we already have. But the legislation enabling the funding was passed in 1991 after years and years of fighting to get the road passed, based on traffic analyses from the early 1980s, based on reasoning from the 1960s and 1970s.

It's passed all environmental challenges. All they've been waiting for is funding, and they're probably going to get it.

How do you stop this? It's a lot easier to change ink than bulldozers.

2012-12-21 21:31:16

Let's see. 4 lane highway would take a million bricks per mile. I know that a gold brick would cost a lot more than $48. Restoration of brick roads cost from $13 to $17 per square foot. One mile of highway would be 264,000 square feet and cost us upwards of 4 and a half million dollars. Of course, that assuming we are refurbishing a brick road and not building from scratch.

2012-12-21 21:31:24

It is expensive, I looked at some numbers for how much it normally costs to build a multi-lane rural highway ( and it is several million dollars per mile, not $48 million. I expect that there's something else feeding into the $48 million than simple construction costs.

2012-12-21 21:41:43

I know shamefully little about this issue, but wild-guessing, I would think that property acquisition and /or right-of-way rights would far exceed actual construction costs, perhaps? Especially given that property owners on the published route are aware this is coming and see the cha$$$$ching?

2012-12-21 21:50:43

Gosh, Pseuda, I was thinking if only the mountaintop-exploding industry and the fracking industry could get together with the highway building industry, this project might just be a $ wash. [sarcasm]

2012-12-21 22:32:52

You left out gambling.

2012-12-21 22:33:45


2012-12-21 22:35:55

I'm confident the fracking water will get to the rivers without the expressway.

2012-12-21 23:14:54

@Mick +1.

2012-12-22 04:18:10

Panera was replaced by a now larger Pamela's

last time I was past the old B&N it appeared as if there was some interior construction going on.

2012-12-22 18:30:20

I understand IBM is moving into the old Barnes and Noble space in Squirrel Hill. They bought Vivisimo, the specialized search website just across the street, and I guess needed more nearby space. It's odd having meeting rooms in retail space like that, right behind picture windows from the street.

2012-12-22 21:33:37

^Ha, so that's what's going on in that storefront. I noticed all the conference tables with conference phones & was hoping it would not be some sort of Engram debriefing chamber.

2012-12-23 00:15:52

It's not Vivismo - yes they are on the third floor above RiteAid/Silk Elephant - yes they were bought by IBM - but it's the second floor guys - M*Modal who are expanding into the B&N space. I get to stay on the west side of the street but many of my friends are moving over. It will be interesting to see how we work out communication. And I don't know what's decided about bicycle storage there either!

2012-12-23 03:01:39

Thanks for the correction!

2012-12-23 06:23:55
Fourth try at getting this post to come up. The first three went away, the last two of which after I saw it on the board. Can we please get a moderator to change the name of this thread? There IS a VERY real chance the MFSoB will be built. I just got this email, badly mangled by Yahoo: (see next post)
2013-05-29 09:00:23
Why doesn't this work? This is the SEVENTH attempt to paste the text in. OK, then, I'll type it, one paragraph at a time. From: To: Sent: 5/28/2013 10:39:21 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time Subj: Call for Support for Passage of PA Senate Bill #1 & Mon Fayette Expressway Call for Support for Passage of PA Senate Bill #1 and completion of Mon Fayette Expressway Community Sponsors UPMC Huntingdon Bank Anthony Crane USA KU Resources, Inc. The Daily News - Trib Total Media John the Greek Food Concessions Dorothy's Candies Guardian Storage 201 Lysle Blvd. McKeesport, PA 15132 Dear LinkedIn Friends: For the first time in fifteen years, comprehensive transportation legislation has been introduced in the State Senate. This legislation includes funding to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for Act 61 projects including the Mon Fayette Expressway.
2013-05-29 09:13:50
...continued from above... We as a Chamber believe that the single most important economic development issue for our region is completion of Mon-Fayette from Route 51 to Interstate 376. This will spur massive new business investment in our Mon Valley by improving access to nine major developable sites along the Monongahela. Chamber President, Maury Burgwin has been invited to testify at a PA Senate Transportation Committee hosted by Senator James Brewster this Thursday, May 30th at the CCAC Boyce Campus Auditorium at 11:30 AM. We are in support of Senate Bill #1 and applaud the leadership of the Senate Transportation Committee for moving this important legislation forward to the full Senate. As our Mission Statement says: The Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to sustaining and expanding the region's prosperity by uniting business and community. We want to send a broad community based message to our leadership in Harrisburg. Therefore we ask you to sign this electronic petition stating that you support Senate Bill #1 and the opportunity it will create to complete the Mon Fayette Expressway. It is also crucial that you consider sending a letter to your state senator and representative to further emphasize the importance of passing this comprehensive legislation and what it specifically means for you business. Statements in the letter describing what the Mon Fayette Expressway would mean to your business in terms of improved market access or "Just in Time" logistics would be very helpful. Please send a copy of your correspondence to the Mon Yough Area Chamber and call us if we can help on the letter. Mission Statement: The Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to sustaining and expanding the region's prosperity by uniting business and community. * Forward this email * Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce | 201 Lysle Blvd | McKeesport | PA | 15132
2013-05-29 09:16:58
So, there you have it, just like I said on Page 2. And to reiterate what I said in an earlier post: “All they need is the money. And don’t be too surprised if, in all this Act 44 post-mortem, that they find it.” (among other more colorful observations further down the page)
2013-05-29 09:24:51
@stu, While I agree that this is a horrible zombie that never seems to receive the proper silver bullet to the brain (or however you kill those things). But take some comfort in the knowledge that nothing big is going to get funded at the Turnpike with the current pay-to-play indictments hanging over every politicians head. Even someone with clean hands is going to think twice about voting to fund something that may involve a perp-walk in the very near future. That being said, where do we buy those silver bullets or whatever to kill this thing?
2013-05-29 09:54:53
I have no horse in this race, but playing devils advocate. I have some cager friends (hard to believe, but true) who think it is awful that the Mon-Fayette hasn't been completed. They claim that the original plans for I79 were to go across the Birmingham Bridge and continue through there - and taht the location of the jail, on prime riverfront property, was to forestall that. Also, in my neighborhood, the opposition to the expressway is that it would ruin the Bates Ave corridor. While this may be true, the argument strikes me as akin to "That will kill all my crabs," or something. It took a few decades for the 279 N expressway to be finish. Although it strikes me as an awful river of concrete, I haven't heard much complaint about it. It seems pretty silly to have an expressway to stretch for a hundred miles to come within 10 miles of downtown, then stop. It it starts looking like it might come through for sure, I'd seriously considering buy property next to the GAP between Sutersville and Connellsville. Cager commuters will be salivating to live there.
2013-05-29 11:30:17
"It seems pretty silly to have an expressway to stretch for a hundred miles to come within 10 miles of downtown, then stop." The existing (largely empty) expressway is a sunk cost. The question is only, does doing the last 10 miles actually make sense given what you have to give up? I am not at all familiar with the details of plans for this thing, but highways cost a lot to build and maintain (bad and bad), displace a lot (bad), generally play slice and dice with your city in a way that's hostile to community development and any non motorized transport (bad). So, I'm skeptical to say the least.
2013-05-29 12:33:30
You should be more than skeptical. You should be jumping-up-and-down-ready-to-throw-heated-spears mad.
2013-05-29 12:41:03
Mick wrote:It it starts looking like it might come through for sure, I’d seriously considering buy property next to the GAP between Sutersville and Connellsville. Cager commuters will be salivating to live there.
This is apparently what Tom Murphy, otherwise a champion of the city, did in the Cranberry version of this scheme. This would be a neat counter to the usual "Why should taxpayers who don't use [cycle infrastructure][PAT transit][insert your peeve here] allow their tax money to pay for... Why should taxpayers pay for a multi-billion dollar highway scheme that will benefit developers and a relative handful of people in some remote Mon valley communities?
2013-05-29 13:06:02
“It seems pretty silly to have an expressway to stretch for a hundred miles to come within 10 miles of downtown, then stop.” Mick, with apologies, I'm going to quote you and play devil's advocate to your devil's advocate yet again. I can totally see how a highway (well not this one, but some highways) make a ton of sense 10 miles outside of downtown, but not closer in (or at least not very close in). Semi-rhetorical question, but has anyone seen expressways in close proximity to a major downtown carrying vehicles, at rush hour, a consistently high (expressway only) speeds? I think the number of people and the size of two ton cages more or less plugs up any road in those areas regardless of design... there just isn't ROOM. If that's the case, then expressways downtown don't seem very beneficial to even motorists, which means the negatives have little to weigh against, and you should just avoid. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but anyone care to poke a hole in this?
2013-05-29 14:11:16
@byogman, try driving to say California U. from Pittsburgh. Half the time is spent working your way through local crappy roads to the Expressway. And then everything is easy once you get on. So pretty much any expressway advocate will make the argument that the connection to Pittsburgh is essential. And they'll probably win that argument. I'm guessing that the Expressway has too much momentum behind it to get stopped, unless we elect a new state government pretty soon.
2013-05-29 14:28:11
Of course, nobody, not even the Turnpike crowd, remembers that the original Turnpike started at Irwin, about 10 miles from the edge of the city at that time.
2013-05-29 14:57:06
@byogman I seriously doubt that that's going to have any positive effect on Hazlewood. It's not mixed income housing, which means that new rich people will just move in. If that actually spreads across Second Ave, which I doubt it will, because it's a four lane highway, (speed limit is 25, but that's a joke) and there's an elevation difference, it will just gentrify Hazelwood But my guess is that it's just going to be an extension of what the 2nd Ave looks like on the other side of the hot metal bridge; new commercial buildings, some research/UMPC/stuff, more parking lots, just a place to work, waterfront property completely empty and unused outside of work hours
2013-05-29 15:39:36
Fraught question, what new development should look like and how to align incentives to worthy goals, yet also still be developer friendly enough that something happens and there's some benefit to show... anywhere. I don't think we can really go there in this thread without taking it seriously off course. Just sayin', whatever it is, it's likely to be better than an expressway.
2013-05-29 16:12:41
They claim that the original plans for I79 were to go across the Birmingham Bridge and continue through there – and taht the location of the jail, on prime riverfront property, was to forestall that. If I recall correctly, the Birmingham bridge is the way it is because it was funded by the federal government, as part of the interstate system. Really. Getting money in creative ways is how our congresspeople people get things for us. It's called pork. (I, for one, have no problem with the bridge: it's the only one around here that includes proper bike lanes. A remarkable example of foresight on the part of, um, somebody.) MFE proposals never really included the B'ham bridge: Note how neatly the routes fit into the local bicycle trail system.
2013-05-29 16:19:11
And now you know why I said you should be screaming-hopping-dipping-your-arrows-in-poison mad. Four goddamned billion dollars to bulldoze everything we just fought for. Ten dollars for every dollar spent on the North Shore Connector.
2013-05-29 20:26:51
I'm with you 1000% Stu. It would be bad enough even without the implications for cycling, that's just the proverbial icing on the cake (or sharp stick up the ass, if you please). Mick, if you need a complaint about 279N: it is an abomination that directly led to the gigantic sucking parasite known as Cranberry. All it does is weaken the city while flooding it with more cars. Why is this going to be any different? "Improving access to X major developable sites" is just shitspeak for inducing more sprawl.
2013-05-29 21:34:12
That is just a mind bogglingly stupid amount of money. Honestly, as bad as the side effects may be, I don't even need to know them anymore, not really. That cost alone is more than enough to convince me. Yeah, I'll go on the warpath with you.
2013-05-29 21:55:44
Aside from cost, I have a hard time seeing any infrastructure as a bad thing. It may seem like a waste of time and money to those here who would never use it but it seems perfectly sensible to have the many towns along the Mon and I70 given better access to the city. Have you actually tried driving from down there? The roads are a nightmare. Even without fore investment, the entire southern area has become an industrial hub due to its proximity to I70. The fact that it feels so disconnected from the rest of the Pittsburgh area is one of the reasons why I didn't take a job in Madison. Although, in fairness, I'd probably buy property right off the GAP and never drive a car again. ;) But the point is that I do sympathise with the people who benefit from this being completed. It's a big part of making Pgh an attractive city for more companies to move in and set up shop. I think that completing the mon-fay really falls into the same category as the expansion of 22 over the last decade. I really do see it as "progress." If you don't think it's worth the cost, that's one thing. I'd be curious to know some specific objections based on actual studies of the project... besides financing it. Anyone look at the environmental impact preliminary stuff? That usually covers all the bases.
2013-05-29 23:11:41
So you drop 4 billion, encourage more people to move out in the middle of nowhere, and 20 years later you're back in the same boat. Why do you sympathize with the people this (allegedly) benefits but not the people who get screwed over? What good came of Westinghouse being lured to Cranberry? Monroeville and Allegheny County got the shaft, thousands of employees got to add an hour to their commute, and Cranberry comes back begging for tens of millions of more dollars to redo the clusterfuck "connector" they spent $65 million on less than 10 years ago because of all the new traffic. It's time to put a stop to it.
2013-05-29 23:55:09
I said it on page 1 of this thread.
You want freight moved, we have rivers and railroads. You need better commuting, bring back the PATrain and make transit more workable. You need better roads, fix what we have already. Lose any idea that any piece of this road is needed.
2013-05-29 23:59:20
"Four goddamned billion dollars to bulldoze everything we just fought for." Where in the plans for the MFE does it include bulldozing the bikepath? I thought on the earlier pages of this thread, it was mentioned that the plan calls for building an elevated roadway along the Mon. And based on the proposed routes in the picture above, it doesn't necessarily have to affect the bike trail at all. I understand not wanting to spend $4,000,000,000 on something that's seen as unnecessary, but if the MFE could provide a direct route into town, it might reduce the number of asshats flying down the back roads. It could also be viewed as an investment that will stimulate growth by allowing more people from a larger area to come into the city for commerce. I'm sorry, Stu, but without some more concrete evidence that this actually threatens the livelihood of cycling infrastructure, it just sounds like a lot of chicken little talk.
2013-05-30 09:15:52
Look at route 576 (Findlay Connector portion of the proposed "Southern Beltway"), which connects Route 22 to 376 near the airport, in its present state. Is it needed? No. It's very little used. A waste of taxpayer money. Was it great for the construction business? You bet! Look at route 43 (Mon Fayette Expressway) between Large and Uniontown. I drove it recently. It's a largely empty road. A monument to concrete and asphalt. It's not even in the Mon River Valley, for most of its length, so I'm skeptical of the economic recovery arguments. What if the money had been spent on improved transit in the Mon Valley, instead? Light rail, say? Look at the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. It's bumper to bumper every rush hour. The civil engineers and construction companies should be fixing the horrible Squirrel Hill interchange so it stops generating traffic jams. That's where more of our tax money should go, not to the MFE or SB. An MFE-booster would say "oh! the MFE will include a Bates St-to-Monroeville bypass to the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, so it's just the answer to your concerns!". To which I would answer: "We don't need the MFE; we need repairs to our crumbling roads and bridges". I am irate to see the Turnpike Commission squandering our tax money on another porkbarrel project.
2013-05-30 09:26:36
JaySherman5000 wrote:Where in the plans for the MFE does it include bulldozing the bikepath?
In the map that was posted earlier, if they build the southern shore route it looks like they would get rid of the GAP to Pittsburgh connection. It says Sandcastle would have to move. The northern shore route would eliminate the Duck Hollow trail and the Hazelwood trail, I think.
2013-05-30 09:28:45
The Sq. Hill tunnel is bumper to bumper every rush hour because it is literally the only highway connection between downtown and points east of Pittsburgh. A second highway route to bypass the tunnel would allow some traffic to be diverted, alleviating the daily traffic jam into/out of the city. It actually is a viable solution, whereas simply "fixing what we have" doesn't alleviate the daily mess. If this proposed new highway were coupled with an increase in public transit, I think there could be real progress made. That said, I would like to see an itemized list of projected expenses. Four billion seems like a steep price tag, but then again, I'm no expert on road construction.
2013-05-30 09:37:47
@jonawebb: has anyone actually asked the planners of this project directly "How will this project affect the bike trail?" If not, someone should. Then I'll let you know whether or not I'm ready to bring my spears out.
2013-05-30 09:41:27
JaySherman5000 wrote:A second highway route to bypass the tunnel would allow some traffic to be diverted, alleviating the daily traffic jam into/out of the city.
People tolerate a certain amount of traffic. What happens when you add additional highways is more people move into outlying areas, and eventually the highways fill up again. You end up with just as much congestion on more roads, and more people commuting. And the core areas get depleted of investment, industry, jobs, and people. What is needed is more investment in transit and biking, which improve quality of life and accessibility in the core areas. And Pittsburgh is sort of half-heartedly making improvements in some of these areas. The Mon-Fayette Expressway is a step back to an earlier mindset.
2013-05-30 09:58:37
I've sat through the mess trying to go through the squirrel hill tunnel. No question that it is absolutely miserable. But here's the question, how many people who do that don't have another credible option, public transit or biking? And I'm not saying it's not a lot of people, I just don't think it's in any way enough people to remotely justify this kind of price tag. If I'm spending 4 ^&*ing billion dollars, I think it's more than reasonable to ask at MINIMUM, a million people to raise their hands and say they need it, and not consider the project if you don't have that as a critical mass. We're not a big enough town for that. Now, maybe the eastern busway needs to be longer, have more frequent service, or have more express (v.s. all stops) service. For sure, points east need to be made more bike friendly. That sort of stuff costs, but it doesn't cost billions. So let's have that conversation, not this.
2013-05-30 10:11:34
They could, for a whole helluvalot less money, convert one lane of the Parkway East to an bus-only lane, and connect it directly to the East Busway. That third outbound lane starts almost exactly where the busway crosses the parkway. Right now, because of Edgewood's intransigence against transit, East suburb buses all have to spend 10 minutes threading through brick streets in Wilkinsburg. Again: Make transit workable. That solves the traffic issues, which obviates the main argument for the tunnel bypass.
2013-05-30 10:50:38
They don't have another credible option because of foolish choices by government in the past, and at least some of them have personally made a foolish choice about where to live as well. There's plenty of opportunity for people to live much closer to the city and we should be encouraging rehabilitation of those places (where transit is much more viable as well) instead of encouraging more sprawl.
2013-05-30 11:05:28
What stops the PAT buses from using the MFE to provide improved service to the areas along its path once it's built? There could even be Park & Rides set up adjacent to the exit ramps just like the ones at Neville Island, Monroeville, and other outlying areas. I can't see any reason why the MFE should automatically be viewed as a negative for public transit or bike infrastructure. So far, the biggest negative argument seems to be the price tag, and to be fair, that's a pretty big argument against the project. I think a lot posters ITT are looking at this from a biased, anti-car view instead taking an objective look. Neglecting the price tag for a moment, is there a concrete reason why another expressway into town should be immediately poo-pooed? If there is, I haven't heard it. Anecdotes about "urban sprawl" don't seem to weigh much against Census Data that shows urban growth and renewal is the current trend. Building a new road into town seems just as likely to spur movement into the city as it is to make people want to move away. That said, $4 billion dollars could arguably be better spent on other projects, but I don't think the idea of building this highway should be rejected outright.
2013-05-30 12:02:48
@JS5000, one of the reasons for the revival of urban areas is a shift away from the building of new expressways into cities. In the past, the construction of highways into the hearts of cities has been a major factor in the reduction of vibrant urban areas into car-oriented concrete deserts that are empty after 5 pm. Any modern study of urban planning will tell you that -- e.g., a classic like "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs is a good place to start. And urban planners have internalized those lessons and are working to remodel cities so they are more transit, biking, and walking-oriented. That's why the Mon-Fayette is causing such a fuss. We know it's not the right thing to do, but it just keeps on coming.
2013-05-30 12:11:56
StuInMcCandless wrote:They could, for a whole helluvalot less money, convert one lane of the Parkway East to an bus-only lane, and connect it directly to the East Busway. That third outbound lane starts almost exactly where the busway crosses the parkway. Right now, because of Edgewood’s intransigence against transit, East suburb buses all have to spend 10 minutes threading through brick streets in Wilkinsburg. Again: Make transit workable. That solves the traffic issues, which obviates the main argument for the tunnel bypass.
OK, who do we scream and wave spears at to resolve this particular stupidity? Or rather, what's the cast of characters? Also, please be blindingly specific... send a google maps link to exactly highlight the dysfunctional local street route now, and as much of the improved route as can be drawn (with the rest easily inferrable at the map's zoom level). A lot of the momentum behind stuff like this and a willingness to pay any price is the perception that there's no credible alternative. The more that argument can be undermined with specifics, the better. I think it's also time to give a short prioritized list of suggested corridor improvements to/from the GAP for biking. And if you can't do the length of the corridor, do it from the GAP to a place motorists can get out of their cars (Turtle Creek?? Just seems like a lot converges in on it) and ride bike (or bus) the rest of the way in. And if you can, maybe continue the bike improvements up Monroeville Blvd into the belly of the beast? Anyways, string that all together and it's a ride that only someone dedicated will do, but having options at the segments make it much more than the sum of its parts. Anyways, I'm obviously guessing, I can't do a credible suggestion, because I don't know what's out there physically or in terms of traffic conditions, but some folks on these boards, do. Chime in!
2013-05-30 12:30:06
@jonawebb: that seems like a reasnable argument, but is a book about urban planning from half a century ago still relevant to today's trends? I have no doubt that there are still some basic truths to be found in Jacobs' book, but I think the urban renewal today is happening in spite of the existence of expressways into the hearts of cities. During the time that The Death and Life... was being written, many of those highways were still under construction. Today, they are still in place, and yet, people continue to choose city life over suburban death. I still think, during a time when people are actively choosing the city over the suburb, a new road into town might draw more people in just as easily as it once provided an escape route for those looking to get out. Of course, I'm basing all of this on my own observation of headlines, Census Data, and scientist's intuition, so I could be totally wrong. I just think the social climate today is different from what it was in the middle of the last century.
2013-05-30 12:58:18
JaySherman5000 wrote:Neglecting the price tag for a moment, is there a concrete reason why another expressway into town should be immediately poo-pooed? If there is, I haven’t heard it. Anecdotes about “urban sprawl” don’t seem to weigh much against Census Data that shows urban growth and renewal is the current trend. Building a new road into town seems just as likely to spur movement into the city as it is to make people want to move away.
If you look at a lot of the cities in that study, they have already become so sprawled out that people have realized how terrible it is. Lets learn from their mistakes and not waste the billions of dollars we can't possibly repay.
2013-05-30 13:01:09
salty wrote: What good came of Westinghouse being lured to Cranberry?
That is a valid point. I also agree that we shouldn't be promoting suburban living... which is how we got into our current oil-dependence mess in the first place imho (nevermind emissions, global-warming, etc.). Perhaps my assumption is wrong, but I assume that society has started to recenter itself into urban areas and that the cost of time and gasoline is in of itself enough incentive to prevent any sort of suburban migration 2.0. From my point of view, connecting the suburbs and outlying communities helps to promote the center of the hub as a cultural, arts, and business center rather than an incentive to commute long distances just because there is a highway available. I don't think, personally, that extending the mon-fay is the best or only method of accomplishing this. I think that a southern loop connecting the end of the current mon-fay with 79 on the west and 76 on the east would accomplish the same desirable outcome (along with a much needed bypass to alleviate some of the tunnel congestion). I'm partly playing devil's advocate but I'm also trying to be objective. A lot of highway development was stopped in Seattle in the 1970's and I've seen the first hand results of this thirty years down the road. If Pittsburgh starts to grow again, a well thought out traffic system may make a big difference down the line. Beyond that, it may just come down to personal views on traffic and infrastructure. Vancouver BC is one example of a city where they went out of their way to prevent highways for better or for worse. I, personally, think that they tied up their hands and created unnecessary bottlenecks. On the other hand, look at car-loving Los Angeles which has more bottle necks than anywhere else I've been despite the massive amounts of highways. I really can't predict the growth of Pgh or future traffic patterns... which is why I'm curious if anyone has seen any projections.
2013-05-30 13:01:20
@js5000 I don't know your background -- I was assuming from the way you were arguing that you needed to start at the beginning -- my apologies if you are already knowledgeable in the area. But as to your argument -- if you're saying that the urban revival is happening in spite of the existence of expressways into the heart of cities -- wouldn't it seem logical that adding a brand new expressway would set things back some?
2013-05-30 13:02:33
You know... speaking of bypasses. I imagine that removing tolls on the turnpike between Monroeville and the 376 extension on the west side would go a long way to help reduce some of the tunnel traffic without the need of building any new roads. If anything, the tool should be on the tunnel routes and not the only bypass we have going east-west. Talk about an easily solved problem that places the incentives in the wrong places. That said, I disagree with Stu's take that improved mass transit would put much of a dent in the tunnel congestion. People are going to drive, and while more park-and-rides may help it would take an awful lot of new transit to encourage anyone but the most hardened of commuters to use what currently exists with the addition of a few more busses or even light rail. I'd love to see more fast busses and light rail... don't get me wrong. My main point is that a lot of people don't want to take the time to learn a bunch of bus routes to figure out how to get around town once they are in town. Despite improvements, Pittsburgh is a terribly unfriendly city if you don't have a car to get around. Sure, you can man up and make the system work... but few people are going to be bothered. I have a few friends who have moved on for this specific reason (and they were all living on the friendlier east-side).
2013-05-30 13:17:16
I don't concede the point "people are going to drive". Certainly they are as long as we as a society keep bending over backwards to cater to them by spending billions on highways, fighting wars to keep gas prices down, ignoring the human and environmental costs, etc. So, let's not do that stuff anymore. Amsterdam was on the verge of being overrun by cars until people stood up and said "no".
2013-05-30 13:32:09
It's also pretty easy to get around the city without a car, without having to "man up", whatever that means. Most people really mean "riding the bus (or a bike) is beneath me" when they say that. That's really the root of the problem - too many people are convinced that driving is better than the alternatives. They're wrong.
2013-05-30 13:39:25
I'm a huge skeptic of excessive highways and wasted military resources being spent on oil. I don't think that we should build more simply because we can. I took 22 to 66 and then down to 70 the other week and the road was empty. Still, I was one less driver going through the tunnels that day. Obviously, no amount of benefit is justified if the road is unused... which is why it is so important to look at actual legitimate studies on traffic before these things are built. I'm not pro or anti highway construction, I want to see the details and take it all on a case-by-case basis. People are going to drive, and I stand by that. There is a slow cultural shift but that isn't going to change the current status quo. When I am home visiting family I have no choice but to drive in to Pgh. I usually park at my brother's house in Forest Hills and I bike it from there (unless I need to go out to Robinson for something). More infrastructure for transit isn't any better than new roads if they aren't well thought out. A good fast transit option to get through the tunnels isn't going to stop a person with a list of places to go from driving into the city. It might be beneficial to have some direct park-and-ride routes into the stadiums if a person is only driving into town for a game and then back out. It's foolish to believe that we can't change the behavior of some drivers... I can see that. But likewise, it's foolish to assume that you can change those behaviors without addressing some very specific needs. I'm willing to bike twenty miles, I'm willing to walk six miles, I'm willing to jump on a bus even if I don't know where it is going... unfortunately these aren't qualities that most people share. Automobiles are for some a comfort zone and for anyone who doesn't grow up in an urban environment that is going to be a very difficult thing to address without simply chasing people away.
2013-05-30 13:48:45
salty wrote:It’s also pretty easy to get around the city without a car, without having to “man up”, whatever that means. Most people really mean “riding the bus (or a bike) is beneath me” when they say that. That’s really the root of the problem – too many people are convinced that driving is better than the alternatives. They’re wrong.
You're wrong to think that the reason people don't use alternatives is because they think that driving is a better alternative. You need to get into the mindset of these people because to a good number of them driving isn't the best-alternative... it's the only alternative. I'm open to ideas on how to change that mentality, but it must be addressed in order to better promote the alternatives. Man-up simply means a willingness to try new things and leave a comfort zone and/or not be lazy. Those of us who ride public transit and cycle tend to have either grown up with it... or, we are just more open to new things than the average person. So, it's either already within our comfort zone or we are open enough to new experiences to do it anyways. Stopping construction of a highway isn't going to change anyone's mentality and most of the objection to it in this thread seems to be based on an emotional anti-car response rather than specific examples of why it's a bad idea. I'm not really arguing that it should/shouldn't be built but I do fail to see the benefit of not building it. Likewise, I'm arguing that simply improving mass transit isn't enough. We can build more bikelanes and bus routes and someone who is on the fence may be won over... but that won't do anything directly to convince the skeptic. What may win over the skeptic, with time, is seeing people using those resources. So yeah, public transit and bicycling investment is probably a better use of the money but the pay off will not be in the short term. Perhaps that is the disagreement we are having, short term vs long term changes and/or how the money is used. If you are arguing that transit is a better use of the money, I don't disagree with that... but I'd still like to see some studies. My personal opinion is that addressing road traffic and transit simultaneously is always the best option.
2013-05-30 13:53:32
Drewbacca wrote:My main point is that a lot of people don’t want to take the time to learn a bunch of bus routes to figure out how to get around town once they are in town.
This has never been easier with the advent of Google maps transit directions. Having it on a smartphone makes it even easier for those who have them. Some people heavily rely on the port authority phone service to direct them when needed as well. I'd love it if even half the buses actually had schedules in them for the routes they were running for the day. I've always been disappointed with the availability of maps and time schedules on the buses themselves. When I rode the bus more often, the holders were consistently empty or had a different route's schedules there. Having a reloadable fare card is really an awesome addition as well. Not having to worry about weird tickets and exact change made it really nice to ride the bus when I had a broken hand.
2013-05-30 14:05:01
One of the issues is that the Mon-Fay isn't supposed to improve transportation within Pittsburgh; it's supposed to open the Mon valley to development. So any argument based on damage to Pittsburgh by sucking investment out of the city is going to fall on deaf ears. It's supposed to do that. The only real hope, as I see it, is if we can somehow oppose the extension of it to Pittsburgh, on the grounds discussed here. I expect Peduto being elected will help with that, but lots of construction dollars have a way of turning any politician's head. And the past suggests that the developers will somehow find a way to win. Remember the Three Rivers Stadium replacement? I think city council voted it down, and then there was a referendum and it got voted down. But it still happened, somehow.
2013-05-30 14:12:27
I grew up in the sticks (in Madison, which you mentioned earlier). I didn't know anyone who thought it would be reasonable to commute to and from the city from there, and it's still not. You can build all the highways you want, it's still 30 miles away. I also spent 10 years living in McCandless, and ~15 years commuting from either there or the city (before and after I moved) to Cranberry, Robinson, etc. So, I have certainly been there and done that. I couldn't tell you exactly what made me wake the fuck up but I'm glad I did. If there's hope for me, there's hope for everyone. Certainly it's not going to happen overnight, or probably even before I'm dead and gone, but step 1 is to stop making the problem worse.
2013-05-30 14:14:15
From my point of view, it would be nice if there were a huge park-and-ride at the end of the expressway and regular, reliable public transportation from there into the city (and, of course, regular, reliable public transportation *IN* the city, which we don't have). Strikes me as wildly improbable , though.
2013-05-30 14:45:18
And , of COURSE, if they included a separated bike path along with any new expressway in the city, my views would change pretty quickly.
2013-05-30 14:50:02
Regarding specifically the Jane Jacobs book, it is the landmark and THE standard for good urban planning. The fact that it is 50 some years old means nothing. It has taken society 50 years to allow this "automobile experiment" we've been participants in to saddle us with the problems it has, and prove her concepts correct. If Jacob's urbanist concepts are 50 years old, the ideas generating this highway solution are 1920's-1930' era Robert Moses modernist automobilist bullshit. Also, more roads do not alleviate traffic, roads generate traffic. As jonawebb said, people will fill the roads with up to and beyond capacity. This has nothing to do with that. This is all about using public funds to spur development in one very specific area and one limited group of people. You have to seriously question if it is really the best use of 4 billion dollars. Finally, the plan posted above shows the loss of riverfronts to the highway, riverfronts that activists have scratched and clawed for years to wrest away from nasty industrial uses for the public. It doesn't appear to eliminate the South Side riverfront park, but can you imagine if we had more riverfront like that? Even aside from the Heritage Trail, it's a wonderful amenity for the South Side. And we're going to give gorgeous green space like that to concrete slabs? Despicable.
2013-05-30 15:03:32
Drewbacca wrote:ou’re wrong to think that the reason people don’t use alternatives is because they think that driving is a better alternative. You need to get into the mindset of these people because to a good number of them driving isn’t the best-alternative… it’s the only alternative.
That's a big fat problem it's important to be honest about. People are not won over quickly no matter how well you do park and ride (bike or bus/carpool on busways/hov lanes) and will be feel ignored and be angry about it. But you know what, you CAN'T please everybody. Work with what you've got, make plans with an eye on the horizon, and learn from history. History (going a LONG way back) suggests expressways brought toward city centers are expensive and create as many traffic problems as they solve. And mostly, people have learned this.
jonawebb wrote:One of the issues is that the Mon-Fay isn’t supposed to improve transportation within Pittsburgh; it’s supposed to open the Mon valley to development.
Yup... from, “We sit on some of the largest tracts of developable industrial and commercial properties on any riverfront in the eastern United States,” Burgwin said. “That road would be a catalyst to humongous new business investment in this region, and jobs.” So that's why there's the push in spite of the absurd cost and all the convincing urbanist arguments again... from economic interests ogling huge, huge... tracts of land. So I propose, if the highway will create such an incredible economic benefit, let these interests and/or outlying communities that would benefit most directly band together and tell us how they plan to pay for it, or at least the lion's share of it, so it will not simply create more bills we struggle with while not being able to acceptably maintain what we have. Equally critically, let them advance a proposal for how they would amend the plans to be even remotely sensitive to our concerns as city dwellers desirous of biking infrastructure and urban renewal. I suspect neither of these things are coming because they are hard or impossible. Greasing the wheels with some lobbying however...
2013-05-30 15:06:17
$4.5 Billion. 4500 deficient bridges in PA.
2013-05-30 19:29:12
The thing has cleared all environmental and legal hurdles. It's all a matter of figuring out the financing. One day in 2011, I was out on PA51 south of Large, and stood there by the side of the road and looked at the massive infrastructure sitting there. The supports are bigger than some office buildings downtown. I maintain that building this road now is like building a canal in 1845, after it was no longer fashionable to do so. Railroads started happening about 1830, and with each passing year, became better, bigger, more able to go places, easier and faster to extend, and didn't freeze over in the winter. Yet some wanted to keep digging canals because that's what they'd been doing since New York built the wildly successful Erie Canal in 1818. The canal lovers of 1845 could not let go of the idea that since the first few had worked so well, they would always work well. A generation later, they were in decline, and two generations later, all but a few were abandoned, with a railroad on the towpath. Even if it does make sense now, will it still make sense in 20 years? 50? How long will it take to pay off the bonds? How long until we start having to rebuild large pieces? Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.
2013-05-30 19:57:36
Have you all written your PA state senator in Harrisburg to tell them how you feel about the MFE and the SB? To contact your state senator, start at In my email to my senator this morning, I cited this news article, , I explained my views, and also I pointed him to this thread.
2013-05-30 20:30:52
Why I think work on improving 376 is more important than building a Squirrel Hill Bypass (that's what MFE people call the proposed Bates St-Braddock-Monroeville freeway): Look at how traffic backs up in the morning commute: it's due to cars driving slowly (like 30mph) through the Squirrel Hill tunnel, but then, miraculously, they speed up to 60 at the far end of the tunnel! Think about it for a minute and the explanation is pretty clear: claustrophobia plus uphill grade plus dumb drivers. The tunnel feels small, so the tendency is to slow down. Dumb drivers will slow down without feeling guilty. The recent change of raising the ceiling should help reduce the claustrophobia. If they painted the tunnel white and lit it better, that would help, also. If they put cameras in the tunnel that helped them spot drivers that are driving so slowly that they slow things down for hundreds or thousands of others, and then ticket them after they emerge from the tunnel, that would help also! Look at how traffic backs up for the evening commute: the biggest problem is not the tunnel, it's that crazy Squirrel Hill (Murray-Forward-Beechwood) interchange. That interchange should be redesigned so you don't have entering traffic crossing paths with exiting traffic just before a tunnel entrance. With the 3.9 billion dollars you save by not building the MFE, you could do a lot of other things! Light rail Downtown-Oakland-Squirrel Hill-Forest Hills-Monroeville would help a bunch. The South Hills has it, why not the East End? Pittsburgh used to have a huge streetcar network and it worked pretty well.
2013-05-30 20:47:59
Dear all: while I agree with Stu that the Mon-Fay is a terrible idea and should be vigorously opposed, I would like to reassure you all that the likelihood it will ever be built is precisely zero. There is no way the PTC can raise the money it needs from the state, and there is no way the FHA will come through with more money for this project; private investors have been sought and no one has wanted to take it because it's an inherently bad idea and will never pay for itself. The original EIS for the road has expired, and were money to magically materialize tomorrow there would have to be a fresh EIS done, which would take a couple years and lead nowhere, since in the intervening time the EPA has tightened restrictions on PM2.5 pollution and the road would never pass muster. Community opposition is practiced and ready, and much work has been done to study alternatives, which is an important component of the EIS process. And most importantly, despite all the millions that were spent on design, the PTC never found a workable solution for how to negotiate ROW with the multiple active rail lines the road needs to cross or pass over. Building the Pittsburgh leg would be more expensive -- by several orders of magnitude -- than building all other sections of the MF/SoB combined, and no one has the stomach for it. As time progresses the project only gets more expensive, less attractive, and more complicated. It won't happen.
2013-06-01 18:54:42
It really sounds like you know what you're talking about, and I appreciate the reassurance. Is there anything that you can point us to that will help confirm this? Or maybe you could expand even more in your explanation -- what does EIS mean, etc.
2013-06-01 19:17:32
environmental impact statement... it's what I was asking about above (somewhere). They are surprisingly good reads for those of us who like analysis and hard data.
2013-06-01 19:49:21
The EIS and related documents are not available on line, and the information on the Turnpike's pages on the MFX are out of date. I worked for PennFuture for a couple years as the primary MFX-fighter, and while I definitely don't know all there is to know about this road, I sure as hell know more about it than Brewster and his pals. The project is an elaborate exercise in delusion and a gravy train for consulting engineering firms. It has been a zombie since the 1950s, when it was originally touted as a natural extension of the Mon Valley's thriving steel towns, not their savior. The parkway east got built, and helped to kill Braddock and downtown Pittsburgh; but the Valley met a slower more agonizing demise without the MVE, as it was originally named. The Fayette and Southern Beltway sections were added on later -- but because they were easier to build, they got done first. And now yes, the MFX is literally a road to nowhere.
2013-06-01 20:25:51
It annoys me that the thing isn't available anywhere... "Final EIS Available For Southern Beltway Project from Interstate 79 to Mon/Fayette Expressway The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Southern Beltway Project from Interstate 79 to the Mon/Fayette Expressway (Turnpike 43) will be available for public review for a 30-day period beginning Friday, Nov. 14, 2008. Release of the document, including a Section 404 Permit Application required by the federal Clean Water Act, is an action of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It will be available for review through Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, at local municipal offices, libraries, legislative field offices and other public locations." It was available online during that window, but, no longer... I guess it doesn't matter so much since it was dated and a new one is required but I'd still love to read it. :( Anyways, just posting the above copy/paste so that others realize this type of info is out there for other projects.
2013-06-01 22:47:18
+1 for Salty's comments on options and choices, particularly the poor choices many people have made that leave them with few "options;" and on "people are going to drive." People react to incentives. A prime rule of public policy is that you should tax things you want to discourage and subsidize things you want to encourage. We haven't been making the best decisions on that front. As regards highway departments pitching freeways as fantastic vectors for express transit service, I came across this article, about a new highway in Maryland which first cut a parallel bikeway from the plans, and now is cutting transit service as well.
2013-06-02 08:42:46
I will not stand down until the officials promoting it say publicly that they will not try to build it. The last I heard before this, they were vowing to build it "mile by mile, if we have to". Keep those spears and boiling-oil pots handy. This fight isn't over yet. It took 30 years to get I-279 built.
2013-06-02 10:28:18
... and building I-279 cost $550 million. The MFX Pittsburgh leg would cost ten times as much. I'm not suggesting anyone stand down. Just reassuring everyone that we needn't panic just because some politicians are trying to score easy points singing an old tune.
2013-06-02 12:40:56
I talked to my friend the traffic engineer at Meeting today and he says it's basically dead People are developing places that would get wiped out if it went forward, the EIS would have to be redone, Murphy only supported it because if stare support for the stadiums, etc.
2013-06-02 14:16:58
My friend said that nobody's going to actually say it's dead, but it is. The EIS would have to be redone, and Peduto would certainly oppose it. There is no money for it, and it would be far more expensive than when originally proposed. And things like the J&L development going ahead, and even the Bates street bridge, wouldn't happen if people thought the Mon-Fayette was going to happen. So I'm thinking it's not something all of us have to worry about. We can let Stu keep an eye on it
2013-06-02 16:55:18
The road in its present form doesn't even save time if you are driving to Uniontown and farther south. From a traveler's perspective it never looked like an improvement over Route 51 from Jefferson to Uniontown, but out of curiosity we tried it earlier this year on a trip to Tucker County. We came away deeply aggravated by the multiple, redundant toll booths and over $10.00 in tolls. We may have saved two minutes (no exaggeration) between Jefferson and Uniontown, which isn't a good trade off for $10 and the convenience of stopping at the gas stations, stores, etc. along Route 51. @Stu, if you would like a little more reassurance and a challenging little legal research project, go back and read aboykowycz's comment about the inability to negotiate easements with the railroad(s), and then try to figure out whether PennDOT or the Turnpike Commission can exercise the power of eminent domain to condemn an easement for the MFX across a railroad, which also has the power of eminent domain.
2013-09-11 16:10:24
Wow awesome. I'm totally down for more HOV lanes, especially since I can use them on my motorcycle. I'm not down for it being tolled though...just pull it from my gas tax or something.
2013-09-11 16:40:24
I'm against HOV traffic using bus lanes Seems like it would make it less likely that they could be used for bicycles
2013-09-11 17:00:25
So let me see if I understand Mr. Kirk's proposal. He wants to extend the East Busway to Monroeville and dump the Mon-Fayette Expressway onto it. Hm. Ok. A multi-lane, express highway is going to connect to a two lane (as in, one lane in each direction) cattle chute with no on/off ramps that will dump how many cars into downtown Pittsburgh at the end of Grant Street? Something tells me Mr. Kirk is looking at satellite images or lines on paper or something. This is a non-starter. There is no way this happens.
2013-09-11 19:53:40
AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe wrote:Hm. Ok. A multi-lane, express highway is going to connect to a two lane (as in, one lane in each direction) cattle chute with no on/off ramps that will dump how many cars into downtown Pittsburgh at the end of Grant Street?
I'm not seeing this?
2013-09-11 23:48:01
^What ALMKLM said. Adds more load to the Sqi'll tunnels. Nerp.
2013-09-12 05:14:54
The important thing about the P-G article is that this guy is giving up on a direct connection to Pittsburgh. He would know if there was any possibility of completing it. So that's done. The stuff about extending the busway is guff, but I think it does make sense to connect it at Monroeville. I've driven it down to California and, once you get on, it's quite fast. But getting to it requires working your way through the Pittsburgh south hills.
2013-09-12 07:45:22
The road is a zombie. You cannot kill it, no matter how many times you kill it. Each day that goes by, though, another millenial comes of age and doesn't drive, and another boomer living in Monroeville retires. Tick. Tick. Tick.
2013-09-12 10:02:01
@stu, sometimes boomers stop driving.
2013-09-12 10:17:53
I don't live there anymore and don't really have a horse in this race, however, I have to say one part of that plan seems like an incredible idea. Extend the East Busway out to the Mon-Fay but keep it for buses only and build a huge all-season parking garage like the one at the far end of one of the T-lines. Sure people from the expressway could park there, but so could others from Monroeville, Murraysville, etc. and then bus into Oakland or Downtown. This could possbily help with traffic volume on the Parkway East as well. They could even put secure bike parking in that garage and encourage intermodal. Okay, back to reality.
2013-09-12 12:47:38
2013-09-13 14:56:11
Is the Southern Beltway part of the Mon-Fay?
2014-01-20 08:16:31
Remember the mnemonic, MFSoB, for Mon-Fayette/Southern Beltway, the official name of the whole project.
2014-01-20 09:40:15
This is still separate from the Mon-Fayette, right? It's under the umbrella of the project, but this highway would be a connection between the airport and 79. It would connect 60 to 22 to I-79 to the Mon-Fayette.
2014-01-20 11:30:36
Yeah, even if this is part of the official acronym, it bothers me a lot less than the Mon-Fay. The problem with the Mon-Fay was that the Pittsburgh connection was going to cut through Braddock, Duck Hollow, Hazelwood, and all the development along Second Avenue. While I think money should be spent fixing bridges and repairing roads (and adding bike lanes and mass transit) instead of on this project, the Southern Beltway doesn't bother me as much as the Mon-Fay per se.
2014-01-20 11:38:50
I agree, @jonawebb. I would be pretty upset if the Mon-Fayette were going to connect to Pittsburgh that way. I don't mind the proposed connection at Monroeville nearly as much. Regardless, this highway is only 12 miles and will connect the Mon-Fayette to the airport and 79. All in all, it doesn't sound too bad.
2014-01-20 11:58:26
Here's a proposal for measures that would cost 1/1000 of the Southern Beltway and Mon-Fayette Expressway that would benefit the public more: paint the ceiling of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel white, to make it brighter, put up Minimum Speed Limit signs before and in the tunnel, and give out several $100 fines daily, henceforth, to people violating the minimum speed limit. Chris Christie has given "traffic studies" a bad name, but some real traffic studies are needed regarding the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
2014-01-20 12:25:03
jonawebb wrote:the Southern Beltway doesn’t bother me as much as the Mon-Fay per se.
I was thinking along similar lines. Granted, it's shameful that the funds aren't being used to fix existing infrastructure, and a horrible waste of tax dollars. But if the state wants to blow this huge nut on a ridiculous connector through the South hills, and that makes it less likely there will EVER be funds available to obliterate Braddock, then hey, have at it.
2014-01-20 13:24:05
Don't get complacent. It's all been approved, and this merely indicates that the funding stream is now in place. Brimmeier said he would go mile by mile, if necessary, to build the damn thing.
2014-01-20 14:22:11
StuInMcCandless wrote:Don’t get complacent. It’s all been approved, and this merely indicates that the funding stream is now in place. Brimmeier said he would go mile by mile, if necessary, to build the damn thing.
Nope, sorry, it's not approved. The environmental impact statement has expired, and they would need to get a new one. And that would run into a major roadblock now that Peduto is in office. Even Murphy, who supported the original EIS, did so because he was threatened with not getting state funding for the stadiums if he didn't. The connection to Pittsburgh is not approved, and there is no funding stream in place for it.
2014-01-20 14:34:56
You might be right about the EIS, but I am pretty sure that lifting the cap on the wholesale fuel tax funds the MFSoB. 14% of that tax money is a dedicated revenue stream specifically for that project.
2014-01-20 15:00:21
Stu, regarding the Jefferson-to-Pittsburgh section, again, please go back and read aboykowycz’s comment about the inability to negotiate easements with the railroad(s), and then look into whether PennDOT or the Turnpike Commission can exercise the power of eminent domain to condemn an easement for the MFX across a railroad, which also has the power of eminent domain. With all due respect, you are overlooking a core issue of property rights that exists regardless of whether there is funding or a current EIS.
2014-01-20 15:24:42
This story discusses the impact of the new gas tax on the Mon-Fay. Stu is right that there is dedicated money for the Mon-Fay (the story says 12%). It's clear from the story that there still are people who want it to run to Pittsburgh. But the story doesn't address the other issues raised here. Given the various legal difficulties for the connection to Pittsburgh, the development that has occurred and is continuing to occur along the Mon where the Mon-Fay would run, I think it's very unlikely there will be a direct connection to Pittsburgh. Monroeville is much more likely. In any case, it's not an approved project, and getting it approved would require Pittsburgh's Mayor to agree. BTW the story says the new tax goes 50% to transit here and in Philadelphia. That's a pretty good mix -- 50% transit, 12% Mon-Fay. Still, could be better.
2014-01-20 15:35:01
MFSoB. . . . is that really official, because I see a different acronym there.
2014-01-20 15:43:30
Lifting the cap on the OCFT does not fund the MFX to Pgh or Monroeville. There would need to be an additional funding stream approved. It will not happen. It *does* create a leaky valve within the PTC (look for corruption charges and phony transportation studies over the next 10 years) -- in other words it's a huge waste of money, but it's not enough to let the PTC acquire any property in the MFX right-of-way. The Southern Beltway is, however, a done deal. No news there. Also Brimmeier has been indicted for criminal conspiracy and a bunch of other stuff. He's not a player anymore. Lastly you must remember that the Turnpike doesn't make decisions about whether or not to build the Mon-Fayette, and building the Mon-Fay and Southern Beltway projects has NEVER BEEN about sensible transportation planning. Arguing that the projects are not sound transportation policy is a non-starter, imo. They have always and will only ever be about politics and pork. The only arguments that have any weight with the legislators who can actually do something to kill the Mon-Fay for good are about how much money the projects suck away from other projects they'd like to build in their districts.
2014-01-21 10:48:09
aboykowycz wrote:They have always and will only ever be about politics and pork.
This is always true for these large construction projects. The people controlling the legal permissions to build the projects, i.e., the politicians, always require a quid pro quo for the rights. It's simply the way things get done. And it makes sense, from a certain point of view -- they (or really, the people living there) are giving up something for the project -- there will be more pollution, recreational areas will be disrupted or become more crowded as more non-residents use them, the road will make travel more difficult in areas it cuts across, etc. -- so there should be compensation. And the eminent domain payments don't cover everything. So how do you convince the legal gatekeepers to support the project? By making sure they benefit.
2014-01-21 11:10:07
Just pointing out... January 21: @aboykowycz said "Lifting the cap on the OCFT does not fund the MFX to Pgh or Monroeville. There would need to be an additional funding stream approved. It will not happen. It *does* create a leaky valve within the PTC (look for corruption charges and phony transportation studies over the next 10 years) — in other words it’s a huge waste of money, but it’s not enough to let the PTC acquire any property in the MFX right-of-way." (emphasis added) January 28: DOT wants input on Interstate 376 which @salty made this comment: "By the time they send out a survey for public comment, their minds will have already been made up."
2014-01-31 04:08:38
Stu, PennDOT funding and Turnpike funding are totally segregated. The study you're linking has nothing to do with the MFX.
2014-01-31 10:55:02
Reading back over this thread, realizing some of you might be confused about that. PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) is not the same as the PTC (Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission). The two do not share funding streams, resources, staff, equipment, intelligence, political bent or responsibilities. PTC is the agency charged with building the Mon-Fayette and Southern Beltway projects. The reason for this is the legislature decided a generation and a half ago to prohibit PennDOT from issuing bonds to fund its construction projects. The Turnpike, on the other hand, is all about bond financing. PennDOT does actually look for public comment on its transportation planning projects because unlike the PTC, PennDOT actually engages in transportation planning. The PTC does not initiate projects. It only builds what the porkmasters command it to build. I suppose my flip comment earlier was misleading in that respect. I don't expect that the PTC will be conducting broad-based transportation studies, but I do expect there will be new studies of potential rights-of-way or connections for the Mon-Fayette to 376 in Monroeville that will (shh, shhh) go absolutely nowhere. But will produce many fine-looking renderings that the public may be invited to gawk at in firehall galleries. Think of it as PTC's subsidy for the arts.
2014-01-31 11:05:05
BTW, the Authority concept for US road building was pioneered by Robert Moses, who used it to amass power that was unaccountable to anyone but himself (and taught others, including I'm sure the creators of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority, how to do this). Once the state has set up an Authority to do something, the Authority has its own power, funding (from tolls), and can make contracts which, even under the US Constitution, the state can't interfere with. And the Authority continues to exist so long as it has debt. So, in order to continue to exist, the Authority keeps building. Theoretically the state controls the Turnpike Authority because it appoints the members to its board. But usually the board is insulated from "too much" state control by having the board member's terms extend longer than a governor's term. So, while I guess the situation here in PA is not as bad as it was in NYC during Moses's time, there is more than a little in common.
2014-01-31 11:22:09
Southern Beltway Extension: 12 miles, half a billion dollars = $41,666,666 per mile! The number of the beast!
2014-03-04 10:25:56
I've been sparring with some people over the Southern Beltway Project and here are their main justifications in favor of the project. I'm interested in what you folks have to say. The justifications are: - The airport is undergoing development and this road will help with the ultimate success of the project. - It will be good for Washington County. - Pittsburgh has needed a beltway for 50 years and should have had one by now. - At half a billion and approx. 42 million per mile (initial segment is 12 miles long and will cost $550 million), that is the going rate for highway construction. They also throw-in at other junctures that it is mostly farmland and won't require much difficult construction. - Alternative plans do not address existing bottlenecks and this road will reduce traffic in Pittsburgh. - It is a done deal (so why bother to question it).
2014-03-13 20:48:12
I have always found it difficult to argue with people who actually want the kind of greenfield office park development that projects like this promise to spawn. You might counter with "look at I79, a few miles away. Has Washington PA become a hotbed of new investment since the connection to Pittsburgh was completed in the early 90s? No? Well consider this: driving on I79 is free, whereas the SoB will be tolled. Forever."
2014-03-13 21:52:33
But that's not entirely fair. There *is* a fair amount of manufacturing along the I79 corridor, as well as the corporate parks like Southpointe. But that's just it -- it's already really well served by free highway access, and there's plenty of greenfield space left along the corridor. What incentive do businesses have to relocate to an adjacent corridor that's tolled? Also I'm not sure what bottlenecks it's supposed to be relieving.
2014-03-13 21:59:14
a. The absence of a beltway prevented the draining and death of downtown Pittsburgh to the exurbs during the last half of the last century, such as happened to Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, etc. As a result, Pittsburgh is being hailed nationally and internationally as one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the US. If these same people don't actually see places like Cranberry and Southpointe as the desolate and inhuman shitholes that they actually are, this may be a difficult sell. b. More highways don't alleviate traffic and bottlenecks, the GENERATE them. More roads, more traffic. See "Los Angeles". c. People whine about taxes when we can't afford to maintain the road infrastructure we have. Let's build more. Awesome.
2014-03-14 05:29:37
2014-03-14 08:26:41
I don't think the absence of a beltway explains Pittsburgh's low rate of white flight. There are the Parkways, after all. I think Pittsburgh had less white flight because of its geography, which helped create neighborhoods, secure enclaves where people could feel safe and keep minorities out. Also the unions, which limited and continue to limit minority membership. BTW, PennDOT isn't some crazy government agency that is just thinking up these projects on its own. It was explicitly directed to build these roads by the legislature, in PA Act. 61 of 1985 and Act 26 of 1991. The laws are still on the books, decades after they made sense, and PennDOT is still moving dirt.
2014-03-14 09:49:02
edmonds59 wrote:More highways don’t alleviate traffic and bottlenecks, the GENERATE them. More roads, more traffic. See “Los Angeles”.
Given the frequent bottle necks at both Fort Pitt Tunnel and Sq. Hill Tunnel for westward traffic headed towards the airport, I disagree. A southern bipass would definitely alleviate a bottle neck (at least during peak hours). The question for me is, does the amount of traffic justify the pricetag? I'm speaking here as a (driver) representative of points east of Pittsburgh and not as an urban cyclist. Trying to get to the airport from many outlying communities in the east is pure hell (even on weekends and especially when there is a professional sports game). I've gone as far as taking the turnpike north-west Cranberry and then back south to get to the airport (indirect, unnecessary miles) just to avoid going through the congestion. A more direct southern bypass would be helpful. It also might help to reinvigorate the eastern suburbs which have lost most of their industry to Cranberry and Robinson/Moon (industry/corporations want easy access to the airport and the frequently backed up tunnels definitely retard development). The lack of a beltway may have prevented the draining death of downtown Pittsburgh, maybe not. Either way, I think you make a really good point there and it's worth considering. I suspect that you are correct. At the same time, I think it did create a draining death of much of the eastern suburbs. Ultimately, I neither agree nor disagree to the merits of a southern bypass... but I'm definitely not outright opposed to it.
2014-03-14 11:14:37
Drewbacca wrote:Given the frequent bottle necks at both Fort Pitt Tunnel and Sq. Hill Tunnel for westward traffic headed towards the airport, I disagree.
That's the exact argument Robert Moses used to justify building more and more highways and bridges. And each time he built a new bridge, it would relieve traffic congestion for a month or two, and then it would start creeping back up, not only there but on other bridges, until it was more than before. @edmonds is right. What would actually relieve the bottleneck to the airport is mass transit. The same space on the road can move many more people, and since some would shift from their cars to transit, congestion on the roads would decrease.
2014-03-14 11:25:30
I recall a quote that floats around in traffic planning/anti-highway circles:
Adding highway lanes to deal with traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.
Like Drewbacca, I'm not diametrically opposed to the concept of the southern bypass, but I'd need to see some pretty compelling evidence that it would be worth the pricetag. Thus far, said compelling evidence has not materialized. I don't even want new roads for MY driving convenience, much less for those whiny, needy easterners. :-)
2014-03-14 11:50:07
jonawebb wrote:That’s the exact argument Robert Moses used to justify building more and more highways and bridges.
But the circumstances are different this time around. Overall, people are driving less, people are moving into cities, and the current generation of young people drive much less than their parents and grandparents. In Robert Moses' heyday, the overall climate was one that favored the idea of "getting away from it all" by moving into suburban areas. That lifestyle necessitated cars for most people, and hence auto sales exploded. Now, with Americans showing a declining interest in car ownership and a desire to move INTO cities, there is no reason to believe that history will repeat itself simply because you built a new highway. The environment is different, therefore, you cannot guarantee the same result.
2014-03-14 11:50:51
@JS5000, OK, I agree the environment is different, but one of the reasons people moved to the suburbs was because they could, since what used to be farmland was now connected to the city by a highway. And the exact point of the Southern Beltway is to encourage development -- which means more people moving out there. So if you're right, we'll get the Southern Beltway without the development that is being used to justify its cost, while if I'm right, we'll get more congestion. OTOH if we build mass transit instead we'll definitely get less congestion on the roads, right? And we'll also get a way to get to the airport that is environmentally friendly & fast, and which matches what folks these days want. So why not just do that?
2014-03-14 11:59:11
JaySherman5000 wrote:The environment is different, therefore, you cannot guarantee the same result.
If our ability to conduct international politics is any indication, I'd say we are doomed to repeat the past. More roads = more traffic. Or as Yogi might say, it's so crowded nobody would use it.
2014-03-14 12:01:18
jonawebb wrote:That’s the exact argument Robert Moses used to justify building more and more highways and bridges. And each time he built a new bridge, it would relieve traffic congestion for a month or two, and then it would start creeping back up, not only there but on other bridges, until it was more than before.
Ultimately, it depends on what is causing the bottle neck. There is a bottleneck a) which is created by demand and I agree that kind will just appear and reappear. There is bottleneck b) which is a design issue. Given an opportunity to avoid the clusterfuck of a last minute merge in heavy traffic while approaching the Fort Pitt tunnel from 376 is definitely (poor) design driven. On the other hand, I think the Squill tunnel is all psychological on the part of the driver. Whatever the case, the opportunity to avoid those two bottlenecks for a time sensitive flight seem to be something Pittsburgh needs (at least, "ideally" in the engineering sense of the word). Still, how much traffic would it actually alleviate? I don't see a southern bypass as opening up a lot of new sprawl, I'm more worried that it wouldn't see the use to justify cost. Don't get me wrong, I think a dedicated light-rail sort of system from Monroeville to the airport is the preferred solution here. Something that is quick with no more than one or two stops along the way (for an express). I'd much rather ride a train to the airport (and leave my car in Monroeville) to drop off a friend/relative than drive all the way out to Moon. My point is, there is a problem that should be addressed... be it a better transit system of a bypass. I choose transit over another road. I'm just arguing that there is a definite problem and it's not just building a road because they can, they are just using the wrong solution to the problem.
2014-03-14 12:13:16
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." This old saying could be used to describe the approaches of our transportation agencies. Regarding Cranberry Township, some might be delighted to learn that they have adopted a comprehensive bicycle program. Implementation is set to begin this month. Sounds to me like they are trying to achieve Bicycle Friendly Community status. It takes one enlightened community to perhaps set off a chain reaction in our suburbs. There was one fellow who was at least willing to consider options other than a highway to solve our transportation problems. There are some aspects of the beltway that could end up being positive. However, without a comprehensive transportation solution, our problems will continue and probably become worse with time. It is difficult to take on a gang of pork-loving homers, but then again, I did get into their heads, which was my purpose.
2014-03-15 11:05:37
Preaching to the choir but We're (already) #4! " The paper explains that construction spending, especially on big infrastructure projects, is particularly susceptible to corruption because the quality of large, nonstandard projects are difficult for the public to gauge, while the industry is dominated by a few monopolistic firms. " If that doesn't scream mofosob I don't know what does.
2014-06-19 14:11:04
The zombie rumbles and possibly even breathes, as long as Joe Kirk is alive. I want to rage and seethe in a response, but I suspect a better approach is to point out how antiquated that line of thinking has become, and to suggest that if you really want economic redevelopment, that there are much more cost-effective ways to accomplish that.
2014-12-13 12:14:32
Here's hoping the $550 million appropriation of earlier this year will be put back into the ailing state budget and used for more important and meaningful projects.
2014-12-13 12:25:12
1. It's not, mainly, a state budget issue. The Turnpike Commission has its own source of funds: tolls. Though sometimes it does get money from the state budget too. Its charter runs on floating bonds to build stuff. If it were to pay off all its bonds it could be dissolved and the toll roads would become state property. 2. There is a legal issue; the Turnpike Commission is required under earlier law to build the Mon-Fay. Which is why they can't just drop it. 3. The environment impact statement for the Mon-Fay connection to Pittsburgh has expired, and would need to be redone. Which would require community input, including the Mayor agreeing. The last EIS was approved only because Murphy wanted state funding for the stadiums. And in the meantime, significant investments like ALMONCO have been made in the planned path for the Mon-Fay connection to Pittsburgh. They would not have been made if there was any realistic chance that the connection would be made. 4. There are always going to be advocates for connecting it to Pittsburgh somehow. And they can issue press releases. But the question is, do they have a realistic way to make their dreams come true? Connecting it to the Parkway someplace, probably in Monroeville, makes some sense I think. It has to connect some place. But stop worrying about the connection to Pittsburgh.
2014-12-13 14:30:39
1. MFX and SoB are not, primarily, funded through toll revenue -- the bulk of the funding for the project(s) comes from two little taxes, the Oil Company Franchise Tax and a bit of the gas tax. The last transportation bill upped the limit on the OCFT, which had the indirect effect of upping the $ yield for the MFX. But it's still not enough to build out the MFX beyond 51, whether to Monroeville or Oakland. All it is is a leaky valve and a waste of money. 2. The PTC is authorized to build the MFX, and structurally it does what it's authorized to do, but it's not strictly speaking required to do it. There would be no penalty to the PTC if it just let the project linger in perpetuity on its to-do list. 3. yes 4. no, not at all. It doesn't have to connect anywhere, actually. It can stand forever as a monument to bad planning, ending in a mound of dirt in Large. But it's important to remember that the only plan on the books, which is the Y-shaped connector of 24 miles of road connecting the existing MFX from 51 to I-376 in Oakland and Monroeville, is no longer feasible (if indeed it ever was) -- the EIS has expired, and the money isn't there, and development has meanwhile changed the landscape in the ROW to the extent that there would have to be substantial re-design in any case, AND there were logistical hurdles to construction that were never worked out in the original plan that remain unsolvable problems. Mon Valley Progress Council and Joe Kirk can talk all they want about design alternatives and half-assed approximations and connections to Monroeville or the busway or whatever -- NONE of those alternatives exists in any form other than as a pipe dream committed to cheap copy paper by some guys in Monessen. It's truly pointless to debate whether or not it should connect here, there, or anywhere, when there is simply NO WAY it can go anywhere. What burns me up is that the PG is ok with printing this dreck. What if I were to come up with a plan for dancing unicorns that would solve all our accessibility problems for McKeesport -- think they'd publish my idea? It has just about as much chance of being realized as this POS.
2014-12-13 14:54:41
To "aboykowycz" - well stated ! This whole idea is a complete waste of time, energy, and money we do not have.
2014-12-13 16:37:11
I added my two cents: "Anything built today, with whatever money, public or private, is at some point going to wear out and need major maintenance. The problem we have now is that there is much more to maintain or rebuild than we have money to do that with. Build even more on this scale? Are you nuts? Please, with the money we do have or think we might ever get, let's fix what we've already built, and let this tired old idea die."
2014-12-14 18:37:57
Yet another LTTE favoring this, which promptly gets universal rejection from the first 10 respondents, including Braddock mayor John Fetterman and myself. * * * Unrelated to the above, but in writing my P-G response, I encountered a new word: utbaph. There is a picture of an utbaph earlier in this thread, on the first page, in this post. (Used to be a Pizza Hut)
2015-01-01 00:39:47
"It’s time for the Mon Valley to get its chance to develop like Cranberry and the airport corridor," Ugh. Aren't those both ungodly sprawling messes of parking lots and office buildings/shopping malls/big box stores? I think Cranberry has sprawling housing developments too, but man, who the hell wants to live in those places? Whenever somebody says they work in Cranberry, everybody around acts as if they have the plague or something and offers their condolences
2015-01-01 16:07:43
Zombies are known for having limbs fall off occasionally. It's part of their charm. But at least the wild-ass guesstimate price tag is down to a measly $1.7 billion.
2015-06-18 07:41:16
I think that if you have to spend the money that's been allocated on this highway, it makes sense to connect it to Monroeville. Though I'd much rather the money be spent on mass transit, or fixing existing infrastructure.
2015-06-18 08:02:05
Re: the busway extension, if there will be a trail built alongside it, like most of the current busway segment from Wilkinsburg east, and the busway/trail would run past Trafford near the Turtle Creek/Westmoreland Heritage trail, and past Rankin near the Carrie Furnace flyover bridge (to Carrie Furnace/Duck Hollow extension trail), this could yield some wonderfully awesome trail connections :-)
2015-06-18 11:15:32
I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that 12 months of tolls collected on Amos Hutchinson (Toll 66), the I-376 piece in Beaver County, and Toll 43 up to Large, do not even cover the cost of road salt used in five months of winter. It would be really nice if someone could prove me wrong.
2015-06-18 11:38:15
@abf: The route on that PG map crosses the Mon near the confluence with Turtle Creek (where the town of Port Perry was, 100 years ago), and follows Turtle Creek and Thompson Run to 376. This route doesn't touch Rankin or Trafford, it appears. This is a waste of taxpayer money, a gift to the construction industry. Spend our tax dollars to maintain our crumbling bridges, roads, and sewers instead, and build a light rail network and a few hundred miles of bike trails, instead. This freeway will cost about $100 million per mile, whereas an asphalt bike trail costs about $100,000 per mile.
2015-06-18 15:47:56
Also, as a friend of mine points out, they're apparently planning to slam the Mon River crossing right through the Edgar Thomson Works, Kennywood, and/or a twenty-line rail yard, or perhaps jump a 500 foot hill. The problem with maps like is, they conveniently omit the stuff that's already there. Even for Robert Moses, that only worked for so long...
2015-06-18 17:57:50
oh, we forgot to tell everybody that we need to build a tunnel
2015-06-19 09:50:52
Maybe we can borrow that Bertha machine when Seattle is done with it.
2015-06-19 10:03:30
To me, it doesn't look like it's particularly close to Kennywood or Edgar Thompson. From Monroeville, they follow Chalfant Run into Turtle Creek, cross the Mon, then follow Thompson Run. These are river valleys, so I'm not sure what hills they'd have to go through either. It looks like they might well cross over the railroad yard there, but that's no big deal. The existing MFE has plenty of bridges similar to the sort they'd need for that.
2015-06-19 17:17:13
"Maybe we can borrow that Bertha machine when Seattle is done with it." Is it running again? Last I heard the thing was still broken... and they have softer soil there. I think we are better off breeding giant moles and/or worms.
2015-06-20 19:57:14
DB, that was facetious. Last I heard they were still trying to dig it free so it can be repaired. I hope they bought the extended warranty.
2015-06-22 11:21:25
Considering it has taken them almost 70 years to build what's been done so far, I think there's some time before they get around to "finishing" this road 100 years from now LMFAO. That whole thing is a joke since nobody even drives on it, since it won't save you enough time vs taking alternate routes — and nobody wants to pay the tolls.
2015-06-22 16:54:55
Regarding the US 36, Denver-to-Boulder freeway with bike trail, it sounds like a decent design, as bike trails close to freeways go: * Maintained by local jurisdictions ... sweeping, striping, and snow and ice removal. • In areas where the bikeway is directly adjacent to the highway, barrier will be installed to protect bicyclists • At-grade crossings at major intersections were eliminated, where possible, during design. But for us, no MFE would be better than MFE-with-bike trail. With $2 billion dollars, you could build 30,000 miles of asphalt bike trails. Or, if the priority is to help the Mon Valley economy, how about building 75 new schools (at $40,000,000 each) sprinkled throughout the Mon Valley.
2015-06-22 17:14:37
Wow. Victor Edwards. Just, wow.
2015-06-23 08:04:16
This is such BS. I'm on 837 during rush hour going to Clairton and traffic isn't that bad. Same going home. The portion I ride is a two lane road with no shoulders and cars have frequent opportunities to cross into the other lane to pass me. I've ridden on the McKeesport side and it also isn't that bad either. I don't understand this project at all? My hunch is that people who live in South Hills/Bethal Park/Mt. Lebo might work in Monroeville and feel like having a slightly quicker way. If it costs 2bil and my math is right, that's 8k 250k homes that could be built. Just move whoever doesn't feel like driving. Can't imagine there are 8k people doing this commute from Clairton to Monroeville. As public policy, it seems stupid to be to subsidizing people driving across the county twice a day. Meanwhile, the section of mon valley they're going through (where I live) is already cut up and divided by a lot of highways and busy roads in addition to the natural barriers of a valley and fairly steep hills. We don't need more.
2016-01-22 19:39:00
OK this has nothing to do with people in Monroeville. The PA Turnpike commission has money from tolls and has a mandate from the legislature to spend it by building roads. This is being driven by the legislature.
2016-01-22 20:50:37
And of course the solution is simple: Lobby to get public transit, including bicycle trails, declared a part of the Turnpike system. All of them have to do with making it easier for people to get from one place to another and promote commerce. Right? The only tricky part is making sure that the trails don't get tolled...
2016-01-23 11:16:48
I was looking at the leadership of the Turnpike Commission -- the chairman, Sean Logan, is CEO of Visit Monroeville, and formerly the mayor there. So I think I was probably wrong; this does have a lot to do with folks in Monroeville.
2016-01-23 12:09:57
There will be public meetings in early August to discuss the proposed extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway in Large (south hills) through Duquesne and Turtle Creek to Monroeville. "Revived Mon-Fayette Expressway plans have some residents on edge" Showing up for these meetings and squawking loudly "MFE bad / Public transit good" would be wise.
2016-07-24 19:39:59
Who needs to get from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville? Or vice versa. I live very close to the end of 43 in Monroeville... Few people probably chose to live in one and commute to the other. And if you're not commuting, then you can just take back roads or 885/376. What people need are faster ways to get from Jefferson Hills (and everywhere along the 51 corridor) to downtown and from Monroeville to downtown. Like busways. T extensions. BIKE LANES. Mostly I don't want this because it cuts through my backyard but doesn't help me get to work in downtown any faster. 43 is, IMO, one of the world's most beautiful, traffic-free highways. No one uses it now. Who is going to use it to connect to Monroeville? I live right there and I wouldn't use it because I don't want to pay the toll. I already don't use 43 because I don't want to pay the toll. This is NUTS.
2016-07-27 07:13:56
From 1990 to 1994, I reverse-commuted to Monroeville from Robinson and later McCandless, every day, by bus. This is why and when I developed an interest in promoting public transit. During this period, I had plenty of opportunity to compare travel times between downtown and Monroeville, going both directions, at all different times of day and days of the week. I would compare the difference in travel times between driving there and busing there. I would also compare relative comfort of travel between car and bus. Physically, nothing is different between an August 1990 trip and an almost-August 2016 trip via the two modes. Same roads, same bus routes, same travel times and conditions, same brick streets in Wilkinsburg. True, there are a couple more miles of East Busway now vs then, but that extension is not used by the Monroeville express bus. I mention all this because the primary difficulty in getting people to use transit instead of driving is the level of difficulty and lack of comfort in traveling between the Parkway East and the East Busway. Inbound morning riders still have to sit on a bus stuck on the Parkway East tunnel traffic from the Penn Hills exit to the Wilkinsburg off-ramp, then get tossed about for almost 15 minutes on brick or unevenly paved Wilkinsburg back streets, when you're moving at all. Yes they bypass the rest of the tunnel backup, but it isn't much faster. Outbound, much the same -- the Busway bypasses the daily tunnel backup, but it takes almost 15 minutes to get from the Busway ramp to the outbound Parkway, and it isn't pretty. All in all, when including the time necessary to transfer downtown and wait for the Holiday Park bus to show up, travel by car is still 20 minutes faster than by bus, even with the tunnel backup. That's a doorknob-to-desk comparison -- my house to my desk at the Westinghouse Energy Center (or whatever it is now). Absent all other reasons, the only figure that matters to anyone is elapsed travel time. Nobody ever asked me how much it cost me to travel from A to B -- about one-fourth what the car was -- or that I could get plenty of work-work done on the way home, or pleasure reading done on the way in. Irrelevant. No, the only thing that mattered was 45 minutes by car, 85 by bus, each way. BUT THE FIX IS WITH TRANSIT, NOT HIGHWAYS. The solution to the problem is not to spend one or two or five billion for a new major expressway, tolled or not, but to improve the means of transfer from Busway to Parkway. Look at the connection from the West Busway to the Parkway West. That's a direct hookup which takes only a minute or so. That is what's needed east of town. One minute, not 15; a short, smooth ramp, not two miles of warbly brick streets. THE PROBLEM IS EDGEWOOD. Edgewood Boro has always been a pain in the ass about transit. The whole East Busway could have been built to McKeesport and Murrysville in 1982 if Edgewood had played nicely. They didn't then, so the Busway ended at Wilkinsburg until 2003. They didn't again in 1997 when the extension to Rankin was being laid out. The extension got built despite Edgewood's stupidity -- which, by the way, was based almost exclusively on racism and fear. But no station, no park & ride, no linear park like exists along the entire rest of that extension. THE SOLUTION IS TO BULLDOZE A PIECE OF THE TOWN. And nobody wants to do that. Somewhat justifiably. To make a connection, they'd have to either take a large chunk out of the back of Edgewood Towne Center, or eliminate a street bridge, Elm/Chestnut Street, cutting a neighborhood in half. So, the boo-fucking-hoo part of this is that in order to fix a transit problem, they'd have to cut a wealthy, lily-white boro in half RATHER THAN a down-and-out, black/brown/mixed bit of the county -- Duquesne, Rankin, Braddock. Again, flat-out racism. Fix THAT.
2016-07-27 16:18:55
Please keep us posted on hearing dates. This thing has crooked politicians written all over it. It would be such an unexcusable waste of money and would destroy many neighborhoods between Jefferson Hills and Monroeville if it went through. Everyone talks about the economic benefit of it... no. The economic benefit lies in connecting these towns to downtown via alleviating existing stress on 51 and 376 by creating reasonable public transit options.
2016-07-27 18:22:43
I'll save you a click: Meeting Purpose: To inform the public about the re-initiation and modification of the Mon/Fayette Expressway, PA Route 51 to I-376 project and obtain feedback. Meeting Dates and Locations: Tuesday, August 9, 2016, Location: Skyview Volunteer Fire Department, 660 Noble Drive, West Mifflin, PA 15122 Wednesday, August 10, 2016, Location, Carlow University, St. Agnes Center, 3333 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Tuesday, August 16, 2016, Location: Gateway Middle School Gym, 4450 Old William Penn Hwy, Monroeville, PA 15146 Wednesday, August 17, 2016, Location: Woodland Hills Junior/Senior High School Auditorium, 2550 Greensburg Pike, Pittsburgh, PA 15221 Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM Format: Open House
2016-08-09 17:50:44
I attended tonight. There were tons of people there and most seemed opposed. The only non-turnpike guy supporting it was a guy who wants them to build it so that they'll put in a traffic light near his development (a rather expensive traffic light). People were concerned about everything from losing their homes to the highway disturbing abandoned coal mines. Maps are available here: This one maps out the whole project:
2016-08-09 18:43:22
The final Mon-Fayette extension open house is tonight. Since it's an open house (not a presentation), getting there at the opening time is not necessary. Wednesday, August 17, 2016, Location: Woodland Hills Junior/Senior High School Auditorium, 2550 Greensburg Pike, Pittsburgh, PA 15221. Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM
2016-08-17 16:35:44
It is the trib, so the reporting is suspect, but the article makes it sound like this is a done deal. My understanding is that this is yet another time they've revived the plans and nothing is certain. Which interpretation is right?
2016-08-17 19:59:33
Don't forget that this is being driven by the legislature. The PennDOT site ( says it was Act 89 in 2013 ( that "provided a new funding stream needed to accelerate progress on the next stage of the Southern Beltway." So, as PennDOT sees it, they're complying with the requirements the legislature is putting on them. I think that the public meetings are part of the required planning. But they don't necessarily have to act on anything anybody says in the meeting. Certainly they haven't when cyclists have advocated for bike infrastructure as part of their projects. One other thing: this shows the disadvantage of Pennsylvania's tradition of extremely local governments. If there were a few municipalities involved they might be able to have a big enough political voice to keep the Mon-Fay from being built through their communities, the way Pittsburgh has. But with many tiny governments PennDOT can pretty much do what they are planning.
2016-08-18 08:48:49
I went to the open house last night and the mood of the event was "this is going to happen, take a look at these maps to see what's coming". I didn't speak with any Turnpike Commission people (there were few) but there were some residents of Turtle Creek and nearby towns examining the maps carefully to see whether their house would be demolished, or how close they would be to this monster. One guy told me he was hoping the freeway would take his house, so he could be bought out, but instead the map showed his house would be one block from the new freeway. He was not happy about that. At it says "Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin in 2018 ... Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022." They are inviting comments until 8/26.
2016-08-18 10:29:22
And I guess all this is subject to actual funding. The legislature can say "go ahead, lay the plans" and then choose not to dedicate money to the project for whatever reason, right? This is going to be a toll road if it is, right?
2016-08-19 07:53:51
It's a toll road regardless, and they do have the money to continue working on it -- which is why it's been resuscitated, and there are all these pretty new drawings to comment on. The money comes from the increased Oil Company Franchise Tax that was part of the 2013 transportation funding bill. The Turnpike's buddies made transit advocates do a deal with the devil, coupling dedicated transit funding to increased funding for the MFX. The Trib has ALWAYS reported on this project as if it were a done deal. If no one opposes it in any meaningful way, it will go through, but most of the boosters for the road will be too old to drive on it by the time it's finished. There ARE plenty of opportunities to oppose it, though. Write to your local representatives and complain: this project is a waste of taxpayer money, the new alignment provides no benefit to anyone, and we could use the $1.7billion (PLUS) so much more productively if it were re-directed to PennDOT to repair existing roads and bridges. Amend Act 89 of 2013 to re-assign the Oil Company Franchise Tax money away from the Turnpike. And then get together with the Mon Valley Democrats to amend Act 61 of 1985 and remove the PA51-I376 leg of the Mon-Fayette from the list of authorized expansion projects for the Turnpike.
2016-08-19 09:00:27
Encouraging that there might be a chance to stop this monster.  However, as someone who has driven the pike between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg for the past 20+ years, I think it would take a miracle.  I've watched them literally move mountains, more than once!  This summer, there has been work going on both at the top of Laurel Mountain and then at the Eastern Portal of the Allegheny Tunnel.  This is amazing to me because extensive work has been done at both places within the past 15 years.  I'm sure there is a justification but I don't understand why such massive projects were necessary at this time.  The amount of money this organization has is incredible.  And when you consider that they spend such huge sums, in a state that supposedly has money problems, one has to wonder what is really important to our leaders and citizens.   If this project could be stopped and the money put toward some of the items you mentioned we might have a different sort of Pennsylvania in our futures.  I'm not optimistic, however.
2016-08-19 20:30:25
There is an opportunity to officially comment on the Mon-Fayette Expressway proposal. The deadline is tomorrow (Friday, 8/26/16) and comments can be sent online via the project website. I've outlined broader concerns about the project here. Bicycling-specific concerns include increased traffic on non-highway arterial roads such as Penn and Braddock if the expressway brings further congestion to 376 and 22; the loss of Thompson Run Road - a safe, albeit hilly, road that provides access from Wilkins/Turtle Creek to the middle of Monroeville; and the potential for the project to interfere with or prevent the implementation of the Active Allegheny plan in the east. As a side note, the busway extension has been touted as a transit benefit of the project, but it has been made very clear that it is a separate project and there are no design features in the MFE proposal that are busway-specific (construction of the expressway does not guarantee construction of the busway extension).
2016-08-25 09:14:41
Where is the busway proposed to go to in the extension plans?
2016-08-25 20:42:01
Big point of article is that turnpike has to pay a lot of revenue to public transit which is causing deficits and ongoing too increases. This was part of the I 80 tolling deal that died. Would make more sense for the state to spread out the pain to all drivers, not just turnpike users, by raising the gas tax or vehicle reg fees or maybe even looking at some sort of system where you pay based on miles driven. Then again, im 99 percent sure the turnpike commission and penndot are not related. I was pretty sure the Mon Fayette moneu would be Penn dot but the road would be tolled by the PTC? Or maybe I'm confused.
2016-09-07 15:26:00
The Wikipedia page says the Mon-Fay is maintained by PennDOT and PTC (also WV DOH). It's being built by PennDOT, though. PTC is definitely doing the tolling on the Mon-Fay (parts maintained by PennDOT are untolled). The funds for the Mon-Fay come from tolls & the 2013 raise in the oil tax cap.
2016-09-07 16:17:16
A recent loss in court by New York State suggests PA may be forced to stop using turnpike money to fund public transit anyway. (Using turnpike tolls to fund local projects was found to be disrupting interstate commerce, and prohibited by the US constitution.) Meanwhile, PA's constitution prohibits using the gas tax to fund transit. PAT should be a lot more worried about losing state funding than it seems to be.
2016-09-07 16:21:14
Didn't know that about the PA Constitution. Interesting. Thanks. And PTC wants out of paying for transit and you're right about the NY court case. My understanding is that the federal govt ceded part of the interstate highway system to turnpike corporations and as a result they can play by separate rules (billboards, commercial rest stops) but then need to be self funded. I guess diverting the money from these supposedly self funded (self enclosed) roads violates the agreement with the fed government some way.
2016-09-07 16:44:19
I said back in 2004 in a Post-Gazette guest column that PA painted itself into a corner in 1945 with that constitutional amendment (Article VIII, Section 11A) that forbids motor fuels taxes from being used for public transport. Recall that in 1945, all public transport was for-profit, taxpaying private industry. It took only 15 years for nearly every transit company in the state to be bankrupt or nearly so, forcing governmental takeover, mostly at the county or municipal level. A couple years ago, in the "what do these small towns need?" thread, I expounded upon the history at length. But getting the Constitution amended to remove that part? Rotsa ruck. Far and away, the power base in the state is rural, anti-union, anti-transit. Allowing the gas tax to be raised, state-wide, to fund PAT and SEPTA, is a non-starter.
2016-09-07 18:11:15
What about how Cleveland does it? 1 per cent sales tax add on for cuyahoga county to pay for RTA? It isn't the best, but I've taken the Rapid on Thanksgiving day and they run fairly frequently. The bus system isn't as well planned as the Rapid (that's because the Rapid was planned along with the suburb o free up in, such that every house was about a 10 min or less walk from the train that goes downtown).
2016-09-07 18:35:56
The Mon-Fayette is being built and maintained by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which has nothing to do with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The project was assigned to the PTC in 1986, when everyone acknowledged that it could only ever hope to be built if it could be financed with bonds, which PennDOT is prohibited from floating. The current choice between supporting public transit (and thereby screwing the Turnpike Commission) and supporting the Mon-Fayette (by getting the legislature to let the Turnpike Commission off the hook for its Act 44 payments) is the most striking cleavage we're ever likely to see between public transit and toll road support. The Turnpike Commission has always been very careful in the past to mix support for public transit into its sweetheart deals for more tax revenue from the legislature, forcing everyone to do a deal with the devil -- but now it's much cleaner. It's a rare opportunity, really. Force the PTC to make good on its Act 44 obligations, and we'll add another decade in front of the Mon Fayette's progress.
2016-09-07 18:42:54
Is that why the busway extension gets thrown in there when talking about the MFE even though they are separate projects?
2016-09-07 21:29:06
Maybe. It's not the Turnpike who are floating the Busway extension, I don't think. It's the boosters who are trying to get the lower Mon Valley people to keep quiet about how little benefit the connection to Monroeville would bring them.
2016-09-07 22:32:10
I found this (see below as add media button broken) on a friend's facebook page. Didn't feel this was important enough to start a new thread, since it is only tangentially bike related, but it looks like someone is trying to get a house on Beechwood Blvd rezoned so they can pack in 12 single family houses.  This will, of course, add to the traffic on Beechwod, and Beechwood is a big commuter route.  The other issue is that if this goes through, will other people start looking for money and sell their property for more multi-family projects, adding much more to the traffic load than just this project alone. This house is right at the busy Beechwood/Forbes/Beacon/Dallas intersection. Anyway, again, it is tangentially related, but figured it would be of interest to the bike pgh community. Drat!  The media uploader isn't working.  Anyway, what the sign says is an orange hearing notice for 1830 Beechwood Blvd.  Nesby LLC wants to build "12 new single family detached dwellings."  Hearing is Sep 22 at 1030 am at 200 Ross Street, first floor.  Plans are available to be looked at on the third floor Board of Adjustment department during business hours in the same building.  
2016-09-10 15:24:15
That's significant enough, and enough disconnected from the Mon-Fayette project, that I think it warrants a new thread. If it would help, put as much info as you want into a separate blog post, and link that to your post. For things that have embedded photos, images, videos, etc., I've found that to be wuite helpful. Then add an introductory teaser paragraph ahead of the link here.
2016-09-11 13:53:29
The article isn't about the Turnpike Commission reassessing PennDOT projects, rather it is about the Turnpike Commission reassessing Turnpike Commission projects.
2016-09-20 19:23:58
p-g had an article today about the next part of the southern beltway being built by the PA turnpike commission, and then extending it out to the mon-fayette after we spend about $600 million. How does the road building budget interact with the PA Turnpike commission always running a deficit?  I can't figure out if there are two budgets (capital and operating) and thus they could have enough money to keep building while struggling in the other half?
2016-12-18 16:57:13
There was an MFE Extension (Large-Monroeville) meeting a week or two ago and I heard secondhand that the schedule is roughly: 2021 - complete land acquisition in that section of the MFE 2032 - complete construction between Large and Monroeville This is a monstrous cash cow for the construction industry; your tax dollars supporting the earthmoving, concrete, and asphalt industries to guarantee that they're fat and happy for the next two decades. Fat and happy building things that we don't need, instead of spending it on higher priorities: trail building, sidewalk-sweeping, snow plowing, road maintenance and repair, sewer repair, bridge repair, ... I guess construction is a lot more glamorous than maintenance.
2016-12-18 18:54:40
Also sounds like 579/southern beltway from i79 to current end of MFE is in works, with the MFE to Monroeville to close the loop. The only part of the loop that would be missing is a northwest section. Moon/airport to cranberry/79/76. Wonder if there are some plans for that in a drawer somewhere.
2016-12-18 21:02:44
i dread clicking on this thread every time it's topped
2016-12-19 09:46:50
All Turnpike projects are funded with debt -- it's the whole reason for the Turnpike Commission's existence. PennDOT is forbidden to bond for its projects, and the Turnpike is required to bond for its projects. PennDOT is also required to have a public vetting process for its project development, and its projects have to fit into a transportation plan; Turnpike has its projects handed to it by the legislature.
2016-12-19 09:55:48
Got it. But then PA turnpike ends up having to jack up tolls year after year to pay the debt. Who is the deciding body on when too much debt is enough?  Or was the system set up so everyone can keep passing the buck (literally)?
2016-12-19 12:09:18
Turnpike construction and capital investment is funded through bonds floated against tax revenue (Oil Company Franchise Tax, a nickel from the gas tax, one other thing I forget). Maintenance is theoretically funded by tolls. The reason why the Turnpike keeps jacking up tolls is completely unrelated to this, though -- it's to comply with Act 44 from back in 2008, in which the Turnpike Commission agreed to fund public transit with toll revenue. It's still COMPLETELY unclear to me why they were allowed to do that, since in theory the feds are vehemently clear that tolls collected on interstate highways can only be used for the maintenance of those roads. But there you are. The current clamor around repealing or modifying Act 44, in order to provide the Turnpike debt relief, is about the Turnpike wanting to improve its bond rating, and thereby to make the construction of the Mon-Fayette and Southern Beltway more affordable (though of course no matter what their rating these projects are outrageously expensive and totally not worth any expense). What's interesting is that for the first time the Turnpike has made the misstep of pitting the Mon-Fayette directly in conflict with public transit. In the past they've always managed to bind the two together, such that people who would otherwise be totally opposed to the MFX had to hold their nose and support the Mon-Fayette funding in order to secure reliable funding for public transit. Now there's a choice between the two, and transit advocates are free to tell the Turnpike that no, you don't get to walk away from your commitment in order to build these stupid roads that we don't need.
2016-12-19 12:49:59
It’s still COMPLETELY unclear to me why they were allowed to do that, since in theory the feds are vehemently clear that tolls collected on interstate highways can only be used for the maintenance of those roads.
I think the PA turnpike isn't subject to the same rules as the rest of the Interstate highway system, since it was built before the act was passed, and grandfathered in.
2016-12-19 12:55:22
@jonawebb the trade-off was tolling of I-80, not the Turnpike itself.   It's currently illegal to toll existing highway capacity, as would've been done under Act 44 on I-80, but the Federal transpo bill at the time contained a pilot program that would've allowed this to happen.  That pilot program is what the state applied for, and was rejected since the revenue collected would not have gone to the specific road being tolled.
2016-12-19 13:21:07
PA Turnpike -- Pennsylvania's Winchester House.  
2016-12-19 13:47:53
Construction begins on $700 million Southern Beltway That's $54M per mile or $10K per foot. To put it into perspective, it means that the annual cost of bike infrastructure in the city is about 10-20 feet of this monstrosity. The last 6 miles, from I-79 to the Mon Valley Expressway, is still under design and is estimated to cost $800 million.
2017-01-30 17:35:05
Speaking of cost per mile, some stats I've collected: freeway costs $3 (rural) to $12 (urban) million per lane mile ($50 million in extreme cases, $360 million per lane mile for Boston’s Big Dig). bike lane (5 feet wide) costs from $5,000 to $500,000 per mile, with average about $100,000. asphalt trail (10 feet wide) costs $100,000 to $300,000 per mile. crushed limestone trail (10 feet wide) costs $10,000 to $100,000 per mile. So if Southern Beltway is 4 lanes, $54M per mile means $14M per lane mile. That matches the cost of a typical urban freeway. I wonder why the cost is so high in such a rural area.
2017-01-30 17:59:43
How dare bikers use the road or make us build bike lanes. They don't even pay for the road. :) Wondering how much of southern belt's cost was land acquisition?
2017-01-30 19:14:22
Just got this notice. SPC will be taking comments on adding the "final" section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway to the TIP. This is probably the best place to direct energy right now, although the comment process is a total sham show. ------------------------ Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is seeking your input and will open a public comment period for Air Quality Conformity Determination and proposed amendments to Mapping the Future: The Southwestern PA Plan  and the 2017-2020 Transportation Improvement Program  (2017-2020 TIP). This public comment period will begin Wednesday, February 8, 2017 and conclude Friday, March 10, 2017. Mon-Fayette Expressway (MFE): The MFE from PA Route 51 to I-376 is the final piece to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s 74 mile MFE system that will allow continuous travel from West Virginia to I-376 (Parkway East) in Monroeville. This segment is the fourth and final segment of the MFE projects. The 14 mile long, four-lane, limited access, tolled expressway will begin at the current terminus of the MFE at PA Route 51 in Jefferson Hills and run northeasterly, crossing the Monongahela River in the City of Duquesne, connecting to I-376 in Monroeville. The estimated project cost is $2.16 billion. I-79 Widening: This project will widen I-79 Northbound from two to three lanes, beginning just north of the Southpointe Interchange in Cecil Township, Washington County to just north of the Safety Rest Areas near the Alpine Road overpass in South Fayette Township, Allegheny County. The project consists of approximately 3.01 miles of widening; approximately 1.85 miles are in Washington County and 1.16 miles are in Allegheny County. The estimated project cost is $23.1 million. Additional information on the Air Quality Determination and the proposed amendments to the 2017-2020 TIP and Mapping the Future  is available for public review online beginning February 8th, at, at the offices of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, Washington County Planning Commission, and public libraries located in Allegheny and Washington Counties. Two public meetings will be held to present the details and scope of the proposed amendments. At these meetings, interested parties will have the opportunity to review information on the project, and ask questions of representatives from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, PennDOT, SPC, and other project partners. Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. / Peters Township Municipal Building/610 E. McMurray Road/McMurray, PA 15317  Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. / Monroeville Public Library/4000 Gateway Campus Boulevard/Monroeville, PA 15146 Comments  on the proposed amendments and Air Quality Conformity Determination will be accepted by SPC representatives at these meetings. Written comments may also be submitted to , by mail to SPC Comments at Two Chatham Center, Suite 500, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or by fax to (412) 391-9160. All comments must be received by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10, 2017.
2017-02-03 14:45:38
Does the yuge current budget deficit ($600m-ish) and the even worse one projected for next year ($1.5bn-ish) play into whether things get funded?
2017-02-03 16:12:28
Are those public comments public record? Can we see how many of the surveys turned in during the last set of information sessions were in support of the project?
2017-02-06 10:55:13
IIRC, the Mon-Fayette is part of the turnpike commission's budget and doesn't come from the state funds directly? The commission's charter is such that they are supposed to cease existing when they get out of debt, so they need to keep borrowing money to stay alive.
2017-02-06 14:40:05
If they got out of debt and ceased to exist, who would run the turnpike and collect the tolls, do the maintenance, etc?
2017-02-06 18:54:33
The turnpike would be owned by the public, which would be responsible for maintenance.
2017-02-06 20:25:34
just wondering -- do you have anything that backs up this assertion, or is it lore?  I  can't find anything on a google search.  It isn't that I don't believe you, but it just seems like a weird way to set up a commission.  When I lived in Ohio, I don't remember hearing anything similar for the Ohio Turnpike Commission.   By the way, I found this Wharton article on the unsustainability of the PA turnpike.
2017-02-06 21:18:50
I couldn't find any document about out-of-debt, out-of-existance but I did come across what was (to me) a fascinating discussion of the Turnpike Commission's obligation to fund public transit Check the 2017 Act44 PDF, on page11 of the 77-page PDF, the section titled: Act 44, Act 9 and PTC’s Expanded Mandate, and see the chart of pdf-page12 of 77.  
2017-02-06 21:55:29
About PTC's commitment to debt, the following excerpts are from The Pa. Turnpike's tangled and corrupt history - explained: Brad Bumsted "Girlfriends, brothers, husbands, sons-in-law and other close relations and associates were still being hired left and right into well-paying Turnpike jobs. Two patronage chiefs, one for each party, were still employed by the Turnpike." ... As designed, the five-member commission running the state's toll road and major east-west highway was an independent state agency. If the Turnpike Commission became part of PennDOT, the debt wouldn't disappear. Taxpayers would be responsible for it. That's a bitter pill for most lawmakers to swallow. Staying in debt, oddly enough, assures the agency's survival. "The Turnpike itself remains in existence only so long as it remains in debt," said a presentment by the 33rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. "When all bonds, notes or other obligations and the interest thereon have been paid . . . the Turnpike and the connecting road, tunnels, and bridges shall become a part of the system of State Highways and shall be maintained by the Department of Highways free of tolls; and thereupon, the Commission shall be dissolved," the Grand Jury said quoting an incorporating document of the agency. "The Grand Jury finds this to be of particular note given the practices of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission regarding the expenditure of state dollars discovered during the course of this investigation."
2017-02-07 00:59:48
Perfect!  It is totally counterintuitive that the only way something can stay alive is by keeping itself in debt.  They've basically designed an agency that lives to build more and more roads. I assume the legislature could change all this if they wish.
2017-02-07 06:32:54
I got is from a biography of Robert Moses. An authority is set up to administer a state need, it is authorized to do that, and has its own independent funding. I'll see if can find an online reference about Pennsylvania.
2017-02-07 07:10:51
Paul nailed it. It was from a Brad Bumstead Penn live article. Which he got from the original articles of incorporation for the PTC.   Thanks to both of you.
2017-02-07 07:24:51
The legislature may be able to change it, but not necessarily. The legislature can't undo contracts; even the Federal government can't do that (it's in the Constitution). So if PTC issues contracts, and does it right, issuing new contracts as old ones expire, it can keep itself in existence indefinitely. It's how Robert Moses kept himself in power in New York. But, in fact, the legislature is not the enemy of PTC building things. They give them more stuff to build than they can keep up with, including the Mon-Fay. Building that highway, and others, is explicitly written into bills -- even naming routing, etc.
2017-02-07 08:42:26
It isn't illegal to toll existing interstate. The feds' objection to the Turnpike application to toll I-80 was that toll revenue was going to be supporting other transportation projects around the state, which is a no-no. Toll revenue on interstates must be used exclusively for the purpose of maintaining and paying off the debt on the road for which the tolls have been paid.
2017-02-07 12:51:51
The Turnpike Commission differs from PennDOT in several important ways: 1. It only builds and maintains tolled limited-access highways. 2. Unlike PennDOT, it is empowered to borrow money to pay for its projects. 3. Unlike PennDOT, its projects are 100% political, not the product of any transportation planning process.
2017-02-07 12:55:30
Related: While looking for something else, I found SB 39, in which Senator Hutchinson (R-Oil City/Butler) proposes to eliminate the Turnpike Commission and merge its functions into PennDOT and the Treasury... This is his second try; the bill was SB1051 last time around, but only got two cosponsors and didn't go anywhere:
2017-02-16 11:37:41
Yeah, that's near where I work. I'm planning to go.
2017-03-01 14:33:42
Mike Boyd was also at the meeting. It was pretty low-key. It appears that they've identified money to widen lanes on I-79 and do the Mon-Fay connection to Monroeville based on funds from Districts 11 and 12. I don't know the timeline but the plan is to add this to the TIP. There will be a vote coming up to do this. The plan for the connection at Monroeville was interesting to me. I didn't quite understand what was being proposed from previous info here and one of the PennDOT people said he would send me a link to some maps. I'll share that if I get it. But basically, they will cross Turtle Creek east of Braddock (passing under one of the spans of the Westinghouse Bridge) and then run up through Turtle Creek. Riding home this evening, standing next to St. Colman Church in Turtle Creek, I could pretty much see what's being planned. You can look south and see the span of the Westinghouse Bridge, where the road will come through, and then north up Thompson Run. The road will require moving stores at Penn Plaza there -- they're going to swap the parking lot and the stores. The road at that point will be on 90' piers. Following Thompson Run (and at ground level) north from there, they'll basically erase the bucolic area next to the creek. There will be an interchange next to the Monroeville Mall connecting to Business 22. And it will connect to the Parkway a little north of there. Also, BTW: removing the Pittsburgh connection from the project reduced the cost from $4 B to $2 B. Which seems like an optimistic number to me.
2017-03-01 20:09:49
Jon: From the discussion in Aug. 2016 (e.g. http://localhost/message-board/topic/mon-fayette-expressway-might-never-run-to-pittsburgh/page/7/#post-330761) there were links to Turnpike Commission maps such as but those links seem to be broken now. When you’ve got a mere 2 billion dollars to do a project, it’s hard to find money for good outreach and communication, it seems.
2017-03-02 12:49:56
Thanks. I'd missed that. Those links work for me, now.
2017-03-02 13:10:13
The Mon-Fayette Expressway extension from Large to Monroeville was discussed on "The Confluence". A discussion with the author of that Pittsburgh City Paper article. Both the supervisors of Wilkins Township and the mayor of Turtle Creek are opposed to the MFE extension. Audio here; start at 44:39:
2017-03-11 19:13:14
As Mon-Fayette Expressway faces critical vote, Peduto, Fitzgerald voice concerns The future of the $1.6 billion Mon-Fayette Expressway faces a crucial vote Monday, and two top local leaders say they aren’t convinced the project should move ahead... The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the 10-county planning agency, is expected to vote Monday on whether to include the toll road in its list of recommended projects for the region. If the commission votes not to recommend the highway or tables action, it could mean the end of the project.
2017-03-17 10:27:42
If you all aren't aware, Scott Bricker, BikePGH Executive Director is a voting commissioner.
2017-03-17 10:30:24
I was at the last meeting on the Mon-Fay that was held in Monroeville. I also commute through the area. The other day I was able to survey the route from above Thompson Run (it is the valley next to Monroeville Mall). It really struck me, what a dinosaur this is. The highway has a connection directly to the mall designed in. Because that would make sense, to connect such a vibrant economic center to a modern highway (I am being sarcastic). The mall is a dying institution -- just go by there on an evening, if you're not afraid to after the reports of riots and shootings. Further south, the Mon-Fay will completely bypass Turtle Creek, as it will be suspended above the town on 90' piers. No economic benefit whatever, just the construction, and the draw of people away from the area. What Turtle Creek, Wilmerding, etc. need are better connections to the west, through Braddock and on to Pittsburgh. It's part of what we're advocating for with the trail development, but, really, there needs to be some sort of transit option, such as extending the busway. I'm sure Scott will vote "the right way" (and I did write the commission), BTW.
2017-03-17 11:45:46
the proponents that were quoted in the article make me feel like they think this thing may die. I'm hoping i'm correct in that. Also, there is time for public comment directly before the commissioners vote, with the commissioners in the room. Who knows how many of them actually read the public comment. there is no need to sign up, just show up at SPC office on Monday, March 20 4:30pm on the 4th Floor of Chatham Center
2017-03-17 12:17:32
I will be at the meeting and plan to speak.
2017-03-19 13:30:11
Back when I first moved to Pittsburgh there was a commuter train that ran from the city out to McKeesport. Along a rail line that is now (in part) the EFT. I remember it looking a bit sad. An old diesel engine, belching smoke, pulling some ratty-looking passenger cars (and not that many of them). Wouldn't it make more sense to use the money that's apparently available for the MFE to restore this link using a (cheaper) light-rail system? With a spur up Turtle Creek to Monroeville? Second Ave currently has 4 lanes; seems like a lot. That would be a natural. And it would connect the "Almono" project to downtown. Probably as good or better a selling point for tenants as forcing a busway up to Oakland (and thrashing Junction Hollow). And people might, you know, be able to stop over in Braddock for a bit of shopping, or even dinner, in between switching trains. At Superior Motors or at one of its numerous competitors sure to pop up. Help the local economy? Of course. Maybe it would even make Braddock a sensible location for a new business. Say one of those high-tech enterprise thingies. Probably fit into a lot less space that the Edgar Thomson. And, really, there's tons of vacant lots available really cheap, if you get moving right now. While I agree that shopping centers are no longer economically viable, Braddock Ave would work just right as a vital, walkable, shopping street integrated into a functionally meaningful context. Tony Buba understood it all along. A separate thought: Maybe the MFE was actually about freight? (Though I'm not sure I ever heard that.) Aren't there existing railways that make that connection? Why not just refurbish them? I bet there's some scheme to do with hauling truck-trailers that could be figured out. I see those cars all the time along the south shore of the Mon.
2017-03-19 20:12:30
I think that means it's over. Hard to come back after that.
2017-03-20 21:24:38
I'm Jewish, but praise Jesus. What is the role of the planning commission in all of this and other projects, by the way?   Do they act as a gate keeper (ie, if they don't include a project on a list it can't be funded?)
2017-03-20 21:28:33
I said this to the Southwest PA Commission today. blog post
2017-03-20 21:46:35
On a related note, the State Transportation Committee is holding an Open Meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30pm. It appears to be an on-line meeting, and you have to register. Details at the link.
Join us at the public meeting where PennDOT Secretary and STC Chair, Leslie S. Richards will discuss the 2017 Transportation Performance Report and answer your questions live. The meeting is part of Pennsylvania's Twelve Year Transportation Program update process. We need your help to tell us your transportation needs.
2017-03-20 22:03:57
"Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission members will wait before deciding whether to include the Mon-Fayette Expressway completion in their long range plan. ... Commissioners from the 10-county planning agency joined several public commentors Monday in questioning the value of the dated plan. Chief among concerns voiced was whether the extension would help or hurt development in the economically depressed Mon Valley; whether the turnpike can guarantee funding for the 20-year project; and whether past turnpike construction projects in the region delivered on projections about economic growth and development." Mon-Fayette Expressway decision delayed. Monday, March 20, 2017
2017-03-20 23:01:36
Maybe Stu was one of those the reporter referred to when he said "several public commentors Monday [questioned] the value of the dated plan". Go, Stu! I agree: MFE must die.
2017-03-21 00:59:11
Now that Logan doesn't run the PA turnpike commission anymore (he's the leader of visit Monroeville), maybe the turnpike will let this die. Mr. Logan seems to have had multiple competing  reasons to get this built.
2017-03-21 07:18:16
well, residents and politicians in the Mon valley will surely fight to keep this project going. if anything, it's good leverage to get investment in their communities if the region does kill it.
2017-03-21 15:26:39
The borough of Turtle Creek is almost in the Mon Valley, and it's not fighting to keep the MFE. As quoted in City Paper: For Turtle Creek Mayor Kelley Kelley, this lengthy build-time will only perpetuate the decades-long promise to Mon-Valley residents. Although her town’s government has not officially come out against the project, Kelley is opposed because the road will cut through Turtle Creek’s business district; it would displace some long-time residents, and she fears the area will become a bypassed borough.  “We will simply be the town that everyone drives over,” wrote Kelley in an email to CP. “I personally feel that the threat of the expressway being built (going on 30 some years now) has actually discouraged people from moving businesses into our area, or redeveloping other parts. Why come into a town and buy or rent space that is scheduled to be demolished and not replaced?”
2017-03-21 16:12:13
The trib comments section isn't a good guide for anything, but it seems that most of the complaining was from places like Jefferson Hills and other communities that need to use route 88 and 51.  It can take a long time to get into the city from there. And that isn't about economic development.  There's plenty out there.  It's more about getting into town faster
2017-03-21 16:51:12
I don't think Turtle Creek is a good example of the kind of town that wants this. If you drive down the Mon Valley, not taking the Turnpike, it takes forever. The Turnpike makes a big difference. And it makes logical sense to connect it to the Parkway. (Not that I think this development is a good idea overall—$2B to get from Monroeville to the Mon Valley,)
2017-03-21 19:18:31
I pointed out on someone's post that the South Busway is the only such Port Authority dedicated radial that doesn't have a humungo park & ride at its terminus. Wilkinsburg has 700 spaces. Ross has 550. Carnegie has I think 450, plus the outer one by the old airport terminal. South has nothing. Everyone has to drive. Again, anything but the car. What other choice do they have? Scatterized transit routes, long headways, every trip of which still has to fight all the traffic approaching the 51/88 fustercluck. Someone please buy out one of the car dealerships, knock down any buildings, and put in a 1,000-space lot, so PAT can run a South Busway All-Stops. One more bit of low-hanging fruit that will not cost two-with-nine-zeroes-after-it.
2017-03-21 23:00:20
You could argue that the South Busway already effectively has a park & ride lot, just farther out, at Large (though of course the buses have to deal with traffic until they reach the busway). And the South Busway parallels the Blue Line, which has various park & ride lots itself (all farther out than the terminus of the South Busway). So I'd disagree that everyone has to drive; it seems people commuting from south of the city already have plenty of options, unless they're starting from much closer to the city than any of the existing park & ride lots. It looks like the closest existing park & ride to the South Busway's terminus is Memorial Hall, 1.6 miles down Library Road. Would a park & ride that's 1.6 miles closer (to somebody) get significantly more use? (Of course, that park & ride might be at capacity every day.) How far do most park & ride users drive to get to the lot? Are they mostly local to that lot, or following a 30 minute drive with a transit trip? If they're local, it might be a better use of resources to add local bus routes, so they can skip the drive entirely. If they're coming from far away, park & ride lots out at the end of the T lines seem like a better use of resources than buying expensive land at the South Busway's terminus and using it for parking (especially since it'll just get more cars heading to the 51/88 intersection).
2017-03-22 04:47:03
The Y1 serves two park and rides, at the Century III mall (168 spaces) and Large (440 spaces, and conveniently located at the northern end of the Mon-Fayette!), and both have "spaces available throughout the day", per the PAT interactive map: (super handy, btw!) Per the Y1 schedule, it takes 54 mins to get to 6th Ave and Smithfield from Large, and 43 mins from the mall. How does this compare to driving in? Door-to-desk travel time, as @stu  refers to it, is over an hour in both cases. You have to figure out how to make that more appealing to potential bus riders (even though they likely spend over an hour driving in anyway). The elimination of transit zones might help attract new riders, as these lots used to be in Zone 2. But even with financial incentives, some people are just not interested in mass transit. Hell, my employer offers either a free PAT monthly pass or paying 2/3 of parking lease in our building (employees end up paying a little over $100 per month in parking). Most choose the latter, even though it costs them $1200 per year in parking expenses, plus gas. It's sad.  
2017-03-22 08:55:51
It's just very hard providing good mass transit service to people spread out over a large area. Drivers in the South Hills are making a reasonable trade-off. It's not a moral failing. They can drive to the mall, wait, then get on the bus and make the rest of the ride no faster and on a schedule that may or may not match their needs, or they can simply drive the whole way in and pay for parking. If they drive in they don't have to wait in the cold, have more privacy, can park closer to work, and have the car if they want to run an errand or go out to dinner after work. The only real way to offer these people a better option is to make mass transit faster than driving, and that requires dedicated infrastructure -- special lanes or rail. Which would be great, and could justify the cost over time; but it requires a large payment up front.
2017-03-22 11:05:24
Trib article says that the $$$ for the MFE can only go to other turnpike projects, if I'm reading it right. Also in the same article someone (from the turnpike?) basically says that if they don't want it then they'll take the money elsewhere. Which makes me wonder more of this was a Sean Logan pet project as to why it was raised from the dead.
2017-03-22 21:26:42
$2B is a lot of money. Maybe this is a semantic problem. Is it not a turnpike project when some people necessarily have to use a turnpike to reach the amenity? Such as a parking ramp at the the terminus of a light-rail line? Which is needed so that drivers can get to their ultimate destination? It's all turnpike, right? On a tangential note, on one trip to DC I decided to get off at Rockville and take the Metro into town. I figured it would beat having to pay the extortionate in-town parking rates. So I did it. It wasn't too bad. But it definitely felt like it took longer; the train kept stopping at all these stations... though I don't know for a fact that it took longer. The subjective experience, as a driver, of being in motion and somehow being in control is quite compelling, even when I know objectively that humans are exquisitely tuned to time and effort trade-offs. So transit is a hard sell. (But there's solutions, like express trains.) That said, the parking ramp at the Rockville station was way larger than anything we have around here. And it seemed to be pretty filled up. I know, they have more people out there. But this money's on the table. Why not we get something useful from it? Do we really need yet another four-lane highway between anonymous specks in the middle of the state?
2017-03-22 22:06:07
I live near century III/large. I bike to work mostly but when I don't bike, taking the transit options just doesn't occur to me. I actually didn't know there was any sort of park and ride near Century III (approx 5 min drive) and the Large lot is probably about 10 min away. If I leave my house early, it only takes me about 30-45 min to get downtown. The drive home takes longer but for the most part, traffic isn't that horrible. I pay $5 to park. So yeah there just is not an incentive to take a bus.  I would love to take the T but the Library stop (closest to me) is way too far away. IMO the option has to be a system like the T or dedicated busways with stops within 5-10 minutes from homes to ensure that transit is faster and comparable in cost.
2017-03-22 22:19:47
@ahlir, the turnpike commission was talking about using the money for "turnpike interchanges" and the northeast extension.  So their definition of a turnpike project is pretty much something directly related to a road they can toll.
2017-03-23 06:27:52
@bree33, also, the T from Library ain't exactly fast. It's still 45-50 mins to get to downtown. The advantages you'd get from using it are a more comfortable ride than the bus and, in theory, a more reliable timetable because it travels on a dedicated right of way most of the time, with the exception being the mixed traffic found between South Hills Junction and Station Square. Then, of course, when one T car breaks down, delays stack up quite quickly. To me, my personal advantage of taking transit here in Pittsburgh lies more with cost savings and what I do with my time during my commute. My door-to-door commute takes about 10 mins longer than driving, but on the bus I can work, text, read, call people, and if I had the capacity to do it, nap; all while not having to worry about what's happening on the road, and the frustrations that come with that. Driving to work, to me, is essentially time I'm not getting back. I realize that a good chunk of people don't see things that way, so the primary incentive then becomes cost savings. And even then, as I mentioned in my previous post, people would rather drive to work and pay for parking than ride public transit for free. Riding to work, though, is awesome :-)
2017-03-23 08:49:34
I bet if there were more effort put in to making the busyway and T stations accessible to pedestrians and bikes via more paths, sidewalk connections, and development of bike infrastructure (and bike parking corrals  and rent-able secure bike parking) near the busway and T stations there could be more of an incentive to use them for multi-modal commuters. Nobody wants to walk along the shoulder of a busy road to get to the bus, they want a sidewalk, just like cyclists want bike lanes. They want to be separate and safe and they want the infrastructure to take them where they want to go. Look at the sidewalk situation around the Libary and West Libary T stations. It's abysmal.
2017-03-23 11:16:12
When autonomous cars become common, commuting by car will feel a lot like public transit: step in, sit down, relax, and let somebody else do the driving.
2017-03-23 11:21:22
Id also add  to @benzo's comment that even when there is a sidewalk, walking along a super busy roadway isn't very pleasurable.  Streetscaping helps a lot too.  (i.e., trees, non-highway street lights, etc.).
2017-03-23 13:58:05
Without reading the last seven or eight posts, what I mean about a P&R is condemning the entirety of all (tax-paying, private) property along Transport St to the first residence south of Tariff St, making it a (non-tax-revenue-generating, publicly owned) parking lot for as many cars as will fit, hopefully 750+, and running a bus like the O1, P1 or G2 to just there. Not that I want to do this, just illustrating what makes the Wilkinsburg, Ross, and Carnegie P&Rs so desirable. Drive, park, walk to a bus that is on the busway/HOV in seconds. The problem with that entire part of town is, there is no massive level spot to put a P&R north of Century III Mall, which is too far south to be useful. You're either at the edge of a stream or on the side of a huge hill.
2017-03-23 14:55:48
Also (having now read those posts), P&Rs have to be intuitive. There once was a P&R in Monroeville on Northern Pike by VFD #4, and a bus called the NP Northern Pike Flyer. To go to town, you got on the bus going eastbound on Northern Pike. The route looped around to get on the Parkway from 22, avoiding the usual backup at Rt 48. But it wasn't intuitive. People thought it was slower, even though with two very long lights on 48, it likely saved 10 minutes just getting to the Parkway, so the route never did get much use. This same issue feeds into another suggestion above, to run more route coverage in the outer burbs. Problem is, it is not cost-effective. I will not launch into my rant about needing to bulldoze the suburbs.
2017-03-23 15:48:39
Erok's link really has a lot of information about repurposing MFE money (or, more accurately, the politics about not being able to)
2017-03-24 15:49:36
@Bree33 Your observations are exactly why the Penn Futures Plan of 8/27/02 needs to be dusted off and put back on the table.  I believe I posted it somewhere in this thread, perhaps a few years back.
2017-03-25 12:31:51
There's a story in the post-Gazette, which I can't find online, that says that Fitzgerald is withdrawing his opposition and wants the board to approve the extension to Monroeville.
2017-04-15 10:45:00
Drove the existing mon fayette expressway a few weeks ago, it's the most annoying road ever if you don't have ez-pass, as there are several unmanned mandatory tollbooths along the way that require varying amounts of small cash. Better have $5 in small bills and change if you want to drive it.
2017-04-16 13:13:05
PA has to get rid of the stop light red green signals at the ez pass booths along the turnpike to meet some Federal regs. Eventually all these toll roads will end up like the 407 in Toronto. No stopping for tolls. Either you have a transponder and it gets charged or they mail you a bill and charge you a fee for not having a transponder.
2017-04-16 14:01:40
Per the article in today's post gazette, which I can't link to because I'm out of free articles to read, Fitzgerald now supports it and intimates that a yes vote is forthcoming because the region would lose this  $2bn or so. Which is a terrible way to make decisions.
2017-04-17 06:53:03
Here's the latest story:
That 14-mile segment from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville, which has a revised completion estimate of $2 billion, was put on hold last month by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. The planning commission will decide in June whether the project continues or gets placed back on the shelf, where the former turnpike commission chairman predicted last year it would die. ... Last week, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he would drop his opposition to the project since the money can’t be transferred to other regional transportation needs. But the final decision will be made by the 10-county regional planning commission, where officials from outside the Mon Valley have questioned the need for the highway.
2017-04-17 08:29:58
This news about Fitzgerald's change of heart is bad for Wilkins Township, bad for Turtle Creek, bad for Duquesne, bad for the GAP trail (we'll have an ugly loud freeway passing over the trail near the osprey nest), and bad for Allegheny County. I'm going to write to Fitzgerald and the SPC and voice my opinion!
2017-04-17 12:38:45
Composing my letter now, too. It was good to get out there on Saturday and see for myself where this monstrosity would go.
2017-04-17 14:36:34
Stu, if you do can you take pics and post them?  I'm not as familiar with the area as some others on the message board.
2017-04-17 15:14:45
FWIW here are two photos I took standing next to St. Colman's Catholic Church in Turtle Creek. The Mon-Fay extension, if it's built, will pass right by here. The first photo looks northeast. The highway in the foreground is the Triborough Expressway. The extension would cross this and go off to the left. The second photo looks southwest. You can see the arches of the Westinghouse bridge, under which the Mon-Fay would pass, in the distance. The plans are to build the Mon-Fay on 90' piers through this section. There's a shopping area to the right of the first photo that will have to be reconfigured. The apartments in the second photo will be condemned, I think.
2017-04-17 15:30:07
Already done. See the link to videos in the Turtle Creek Rail Trail thread. There are a couple of points where we talk about the MFE, as it would cut across where we were riding on Saturday.
2017-04-17 16:53:30
Even some lawmakers in the Mon Valley are coming out against it. Trib story, June 1 Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis, in a statement called the Monroeville extension “wasteful” and said it “makes no sense economically or logistically.”
2017-06-02 01:53:33
I rode through where it might run yesterday. It's a little piece of country in the middle of the eastern suburbs. Very pleasant. There's a creek, some quiet, lots of scenery. A great blue heron must have a nest there someplace (I've seen it fishing). To get there: head out Churchill lane from Beulah and the Parkway, down to the left on Harrison, bear right on Thompson run.
2017-06-03 08:30:07
here's a pg story on the same issue.  Not as black and white as I thought.  Most of the signers of this letter are Republicans, and their responses range from "waste of money" to "project is pointless without the pittsburgh extension." One of them even intimated that without the Pittsburgh extension it may be harder for the state to win eminent domain cases.  I'm unclear why, but maybe in some way the contracts were written or because of a modification of the original project? They also seem to be focusing more on the southern beltway and supporting that instead. So while these 11 are opposing it, it isn't for the "building more highways for cars that just begets more traffic jams" reason.
2017-06-04 07:14:45
Basically they voted to add it to the 2021 onward TIP?   I know that the current TIP is 2017-2020.
2017-06-26 21:17:28
Meanwhile, the communities along the proposed route will never develop because of this looming threat.
It's true. The communities along the route, like Turtle Creek and Braddock, get negative benefit from this road. There's no exit, and you have these giant concrete pillars carrying highway traffic. As Turtle Creek Mayor Kelley Kelley (!) said, "We'll become a town people drive over."
2017-06-27 10:53:24
It’s true. The communities along the route, like Turtle Creek and Braddock, get negative benefit from this road. There’s no exit, and you have these giant concrete pillars carrying highway traffic. As Turtle Creek Mayor Kelley Kelley (!) said, “We’ll become a town people drive over.”
Not only that but why invest in a community now that might be wiped out in 10 years? That threat has been looming over these communities since what.. the 60s?? Or why buy a house in a community that is next to the planned highway?
2017-06-29 15:43:48
There are still people who want the Hazelwood-Oakland section built.
2017-06-30 05:39:33
True.  But if you think the Monroeville section is expensive, try the Pgh leg.
2017-06-30 07:05:49
It would also require the Pittsburgh mayor to sign off as part of the environmental review. Not happening.
2017-07-01 09:15:49
Can anyone comment on how much (if any) housing for the poor will actually be lost in connection with this leg to Monroeville? I haven't studied it but I assume it will not be cutting through any country clubs or 500k housing plans, but rather will affect real estate at the other end of the spectrum.
2017-07-01 12:33:37
Not with the current mayor, but wait a few decades for them to finish the leg to Monroeville, notice that nobody in Morgantown actually wants to pay a hefty toll for a quicker route to Monroeville, and watch if that leg to Pittsburgh isn't somehow back on the table.
2017-07-01 12:57:50
There's some low income housing, I'm assuming, in Turtle Creek that this will pass over. Near St Colman's. I don't think there's much up Thompson's Run. Don't know about across the river.
2017-07-02 08:48:51
Wouldn't a busway/bike Lane/reversible HOV lane be a better thing to implement than a highway through Braddock? A highway is the last thing the people of Braddock need running through their community!
2017-07-02 16:28:40
Nobody gives a damn about reason, logic, local need. They want to build their highway. They're on record as saying they will fight for the project mile by mile if necessary.
2017-07-03 09:38:08
When is the Liberty Bridge sidewalk going to re-open?
2017-09-22 04:03:30
Interesting in that the water trail (ie recreational use of the river) is being impacted by the MFE extension and triggering the notice, not any of the surface trails.   As for the liberty bridge probably no sidewalks open until phase v done summer 2018.
2017-09-22 08:31:29