Friday, June 16, 2006

Beltway Blues

Funding problems for the completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the proposed Southern Beltway seem to be giving State Senator Barry Stout a headache. In today's O-R article, he laments (in colorful fashion) the lack of interest right now on the part of his fellow legislators in the highway projects:

"If there was a ribbon-cutting, they'd all be here," said Stout of the Turnpike Commission executive committee meeting in Meadowlands. He was the only legislator out of 35 on the committee to attend.

The Post-Gazette had a much more upbeat take on the meeting.

The Southern Beltway has been proposed as a toll road to connect Interstate 79 (at a point near the new national cemetery in Cecil Township) with Route 22-30 (in the Bavington section of Robinson Township, northwest of McDonald and Midway boroughs). As the Findlay Connector between Route 60 and Route 22-30 likely will be completed in the next year, the Southern Beltway would be more efficient way to get from Interstate 79 in Washington County to the Pittsburgh Airport.

Assuming the funding gets back on track, the Southern Beltway would be a major focus for the next state representative from the 46th District -- it would cut through parts of Cecil, Robinson and South Fayette Townships and be visible on the ridge south of McDonald. (In fact, I would be able to see the Beltway from my apartment windows on West Lincoln Avenue.) If elected, I would work to ensure that homeowners and property owners in the path of the Beltway were appropriately compensated and dealt with fairly. I also would work to ensure that the Beltway's exits were placed to maximize the economic benefit for our existing small towns and villages. And, I would be an advocate for earthen barriers and other construction techniques that limit the sound and visual impacts of the Beltway for homeowners and others in close proximity.

On Wednesday evening, I got my first glimpse of a completed portion of the Findlay Connector. En route to the Strawberry Festival at Robinson Presbyterian Church, I decided to see how far out I could drive on Old Steubenville Pike. (Mapquest sent me that way but I knew the construction would prevent cars from getting to Robinson Church Road.) At the spot where Old Steubenville was closed, I was able to turn right and follow another country road to a place where you could see the completed portion of highway and overpasses. I have to say it was an impressive sight -- the sun literally glistening off the untouched highway.

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