Work progresses toward 2021 opening of Southern Beltway’s middle section

Harry Funk
Observer Reporter

Construction of the Southern Beltway’s middle section is progressing on schedule, with several portions of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s toll road to be completed by year’s end.

In December, the commission awarded a $174.3 million contract to Chicago-based Walsh Construction Co. for the building of the beltway’s interchange with Interstate 79. That represents the final phase of the 13-mile, $800 million project linking I-79 with the Findlay Connector at Route 22 in Robinson Township, Washington County, providing direct access to Pittsburgh International Airport.

A 12.5-mile project from I-79 to the Mon-Fayette Expressway is proposed, with the Turnpike Commission proceeding “with final design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of the project as funding becomes available.”

In the meantime, work on the middle section continues to cause temporary traffic restrictions on local streets.

The latest to be affected is Noblestown Road, between the Robinson Township Municipal Building and Cooks Road, which closed Wednesday for about 30 days. The posted detour is along Johns Avenue in Mt. Pleasant Township and McDonald Borough.

In South Fayette Township, part of Hickory Grade Road remains closed to accommodate the construction of a nearly 300-foot-long bridge that will carry traffic over the beltway. Work will be completed this year, according to Steve Hrvoich, Turnpike Commission construction engineering manager.

Also in South Fayette, abutments are in place for a bridge over Route 50 involving three spans, one of which will connect to the beltway interchange at Cecil-Sturgeon Road.

“The idea is to do the work at night for the steel erection, so there will be traffic impacts on 50 when we do that,” Hrvoich said. “We’ll notify the press as soon as we figure out what the plan is for lane closures.”

Another beltway bridge extends far above Route 980 near its intersection with Reissing Road in Cecil Township, representing the easternmost point of roadway construction so far. Concrete paving for the bridge is scheduled for the spring.

Part of Morgan Road in Cecil is closed through November for construction of a new section that includes a bridge over I-79 and a roundabout to be used in conjunction with the beltway interchange. In January, the Turnpike Commission announced long-term lane restrictions for the interstate between County Line and Cecil-Henderson roads.

“Crews will be building new bridge abutments, then, starting in the spring/summer, bridge beams will be placed along with under-deck shielding, which will require temporary 15-minute closures.”

The restrictions will take place between 8 p.m. and 6 p.m. through Aug. 23.

Plans call for the beltway’s middle section to be open to traffic in fall 2021, with some restrictions at I-79 until the following year, when all connections to and from the interstate are scheduled to be open.

The Turnpike Commission is in the process of scheduling the last of the public meetings addressing the project, according to public information manager Renee Vid Colborn, who said that dates and locations would be announced when the schedule is set.

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