Southern Beltway on track for fall 2021 completion

Katie Anderson

After slow progress around the holidays, construction crews are back to work on the Southern Beltway project, which is on schedule to open to traffic in fall 2021.

The $800 million Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission project will stretch 13 miles from Route 22 near the Pittsburgh International Airport to Interstate 79 in Robinson and Cecil townships.

John Dzurko, engineer and construction project manager for the 576 Southern Beltway, provided an update last week on the six main sections of construction.

“All of them are either in construction or substantially complete,” he said.

The first section, known as 55A1, is the first three miles moving east from Route 22 and connects to Route 980. He said the major construction in that area is completed with some finishing touches, such as guardrails, still remaining.

Continuing east, Section 55A2 includes a connector road from Route 980 into Mount Pleasant Township and has a completion date of June 2021, Dzurko said. Section 55B which borders McDonald and the Allegheny County line, is “substantially complete with minor work to finish up,” Dzurko said.

Section 55C1-1 continues to ride the county line and crosses over Route 50, which will have a new interchange with a traffic signal on Route 50, Dzurko said. The completion date for this section is this summer. Section 55C1-2, the short section from Route 50 leading up to the I-79 interchange, will be completed this year, he said.

Lastly, Section 55C2-1 includes a portion of the reconstruction of I-79, new interchanges and new bridges so the Southern Beltway will run underneath I-79. This section will be completed in June 2022, but will have a “major milestone” date in June 2021 when the new highway opens.

“The new highway and the I-79 reconstruction will be done,” he said. “You’ll be able to get on the beltway from I-79 northbound, and from the beltway to I-79 southbound.”

He said not all the ramps will be completed until 2022, so there will be only limited access to I-79 from fall 2021 until June 2022.

Renee Colborn, public information manager for the project, said they haven’t had any issues since last summer.

“With major construction, things pop up that are unexpected,” she said.

During the 55B section of construction near McDonald, residents had complained about the construction noise.

“We had to limit their work schedule and could only continue work until 10 p.m.,” Colborn said.

Dzurko said the project has also impacted local traffic and roads.

“We have a few roads that are still closed right now,” he said. “The biggest impacts are pretty much done.”

The biggest road impact remaining, Dzurko said, is finishing the realignment of Morganza Road in Cecil near the newly built roundabout, which opened at Morganza Road and Morgan Road. Baker Road is also tied into the roundabout, but is closed with a detour on Georgetown Road leading back to Morganza. Baker is expected to reopen by June, he said.

Morganza Road may have been one of the biggest impacts to local traffic, Dzurko said. When the roundabout was in construction, Morgan Road was detoured to County Line Road. County Line is now permanently closed “and the bridge over I-79 will be demolished,” Dzurko said.