PA Senate Dems hold hearing on Mon Fayette Expressway

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The Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hybrid in-person and virtual public hearing Tuesday to discuss the Mon Fayette Expressway and its impact on the state’s southwest region.

Requested by state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), the hearing focused on what the project would mean economically to the region. According to TRIP, a national transportation research group, improving the efficiency of the region’s transportation system could enhance economic development opportunities and improve the quality of life in the region.

“The investment into the Mon Fayette Expressway is not just about building another road, it is very important to understand that what we are doing here is building for the future,” Senator Brewster said. “The Mon Fayette Expressway is crucial in revitalizing the Mon Valley and providing direct and indirect access to family sustaining jobs for generations to come. We must provide this project with the resources that it needs to be completed.”

Maury Burgwin, President of the Mon Yough Chamber of Commerce, said his organization fully supports the expressway project, calling it “the single most important economic development issue for our region.”

“The approved route for the expressway north from RT 51 in Large, PA will provide direct highway access to 1600 manufacturing and related firms that employ over 22,000 people,” Burgwin said of the project that stretches from Route 51 to Interstate 376.

According to TRIP, research shows that for every $1 million spent on urban highway or intermodal expansion, an average of 7.2 local, long-term jobs are created nearby due to improved access. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that for every dollar spent on road, highway, and bridge improvement, reaped $5.20 in benefits for the area in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions, all stemming from improved traffic flow.

Darrin Kelly, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council, said his organization supports the Expressway project for its ability to create long-term family sustaining jobs.

“Jobs in the industry average around $80,000 to $90,000, and that includes great benefits and pensions,” Kelly said.

Brad Heigel, Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said legislators need to be forward-thinking regarding projects like the Mon Fayette Expressway and consider future needs for electric vehicles.