Pennsylvania Turnpike’s $800 MILLION ‘Southern Beltway’ Officially Opens
Robinson Township & Washington County, PA – The long-awaited extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike known as the Southern Beltway officially opened to traffic last week after decades in the making.
The 13-mile section of the Southern Beltway (also known as PA Turnpike 576) opened throughout the day on Friday, October 15, as crews opened ramps and uncovered signage.
The new stretch is located between U.S. Route 22 and Interstate 79 and connects to the existing, six-mile beltway section known as the Findlay Connector.
The new Southern Beltway leads to I-79 at the Allegheny-Washington County line.
Motorists traveling eastbound on the Southern Beltway will be able to exit and go southbound on I-79, while drivers heading northbound on I-79 will be able to enter the Southern Beltway and travel west toward the airport.
Roadway construction will continue at the I-79 interchange until Spring 2022, when the full interchange will be open to traffic.
The Southern Beltway includes three open-road tolling systems that utilize overhead toll gantries.
Turnpike customers will be charged via their E-ZPass accounts or the PA Toll By Plate program, which takes a picture of the license plate and sends an invoice to the registered owner of the vehicle.
According to the Observer-Reporter, the Southern Beltway was first conceptualized in the 1970s as part of the overall plan to construct a beltway around Pittsburgh.
The project was included in Act 61 of 1985 and Act 26 of 1991, which mandated the construction of numerous toll roads throughout the state.
It was finally funded with the the Act 89 transportation bill in 2013 and has been under construction since May 2014.
“It is not often, in the world of transportation, that we are able to construct brand-new highways,” Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Chairman Yassmin Gramian said at the ribbon cutting ceremony, which took place the Thursday before the road opened to the public.
In total, the project cost $800 million.
According to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), the new Southern Beltway will “help ease congestion on arteries like the Parkway West, I-79, and State Route 50.”
Additionally, it will provide emergency-response vehicles, businesses, and the public with a safer alternative to rural, two-lane roads, PTC stated.
PTC also reminds motorists that while the new Southern Beltway should be available via GPS, some systems “may not recognize the new roadway yet.”
Motorists can always get real-time roadway conditions with the 511PA smartphone app or online at 511PA.com.