Southern Beltway work outlined at Southpointe meeting

Construction of the $700 million Southern Beltway stretching from Pittsburgh International Airport into Washington County is proceeding, and residents who live near the work found out Tuesday how their lives and property could be impacted in the months ahead.

Representatives of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and various contractors set up maps in a ballroom at Southpointe’s Hilton Garden Inn to illustrate what work will be done and where. Renee Colborn, a public information manager for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, said the purpose of the gathering was to inform residents of how construction will unfold.

“We want to explain that so everybody gets their questions answered,” she said.

While travelers on I-79 and the thousands of people who work at Southpointe will not be affected, at least in this phase of construction, it will affect those who travel on Morganza and Morgan roads in Cecil Township. The 1-mile project will start next month and is projected to be completed in June 2020. Overall, it will straighten and upgrade Morganza Road, place two new Morgan Road bridges over I-79 and a future portion of the Southern Beltway, and place a roundabout at Baker, Morgan and Morganza roads. Cul-de-sacs will be put in place on Morganza Road.

Beginning in November, the portion of Morgan Road between I-79 and Morganza Road will be closed. It will reopen to traffic one year later. Traffic will be detoured along County Line Road, and that includes those seeking to enter National Cemetery of the Alleghenies. A dip in front of the cemetery will be filled in during a second phase of construction.

Meanwhile, Morganza Road will be subject to single-lane closures and equipment crossings during daytime hours and on weekends while it is upgraded. Baker Road will be closed starting in December 2019 through June 2020, with traffic routed to Georgetown Road onto Morganza Road. For that six-month period, a dip in Baker Road will be filled in and it will be tied into the planned roundabout.

Residents will be notified if their homes are near blasting sites, Colborn noted.

Long in the works, the Southern Beltway will stretch 13 miles from the airport to the area around Southpointe. Another portion, anticipated to cost $800 million will stretch a little more than 12 miles, from I-79 to Jefferson Hills and the Mon-Fayette Expressway.