Southern Beltway expansion moves forward

Gideon Bradshaw
Observer Reporter

Part of Quicksilver Road in Robinson Township will close next month as work gets underway on the long-planned expansion of the Southern Beltway.

The Quicksilver closure, set to begin Feb. 1, will allow contractors to rebuild a quarter-mile section of the road as part of work on a four-mile stretch of highway from Route 22 south of Pittsburgh International Airport.

The $90 million project – awarded to Ohio-based Independence Excavating in December – is the westernmost stretch of the 13-mile expansion of the Southern Beltway, a toll highway envisioned as a more direct route from Pittsburgh International Airport to Interstate 79.

“You should be able to make the actual drive from the airport to 79 by the end of 2019,” said Michael Houser, senior engineer and project manager for the Turnpike Commission.

During the work on Quicksilver, drivers are asked to follow a roughly 12-mile posted detour while the road is closed to traffic. It’s expected to reopen in May.

Plans for work in that area also include moving Beech Hollow Road so it lines up with Donaldson Road at the intersection with Route 980, which will require closing Beech Hollow – something Houser said officials can’t do while Quicksilver is closed to traffic.

Houser didn’t have a timeline for that portion of the work.

The expansion is broken up into a total of nine sections in northern Washington and southern Allegheny counties.

Those comprise the second phase of Southern Beltway plans.

The first portion of the beltway, the $238 million Findlay Connector, opened to traffic in 2006. A third phase of construction will eventually join I-79 and the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

Of the work on the current phase, Houser said the most involved will at the beltway’s interchange with I-79 near the Bridgeville rest stop, where workers will close one side of the interstate at a time so they can rebuild the interstate where it will pass over the new roadway.

The commission expects to open bids for that part of the work in March 2018.

Houser said there is enough room along the shoulders on each side to allow for two sets of lanes in each direction while that work is underway.

“There is no doubt that is the biggest construction section out of all of this,” Houser said.