Mon-Fayette Expressway might never run to Pittsburgh

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jonawebb
Participant
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@JS5000, OK, I agree the environment is different, but one of the reasons people moved to the suburbs was because they could, since what used to be farmland was now connected to the city by a highway. And the exact point of the Southern Beltway is to encourage development — which means more people moving out there. So if you’re right, we’ll get the Southern Beltway without the development that is being used to justify its cost, while if I’m right, we’ll get more congestion.
OTOH if we build mass transit instead we’ll definitely get less congestion on the roads, right? And we’ll also get a way to get to the airport that is environmentally friendly & fast, and which matches what folks these days want. So why not just do that?


Marko82
Participant
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JaySherman5000 wrote:The environment is different, therefore, you cannot guarantee the same result.

If our ability to conduct international politics is any indication, I’d say we are doomed to repeat the past. More roads = more traffic. Or as Yogi might say, it’s so crowded nobody would use it.


Drewbacca
Participant
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jonawebb wrote:That’s the exact argument Robert Moses used to justify building more and more highways and bridges. And each time he built a new bridge, it would relieve traffic congestion for a month or two, and then it would start creeping back up, not only there but on other bridges, until it was more than before.

Ultimately, it depends on what is causing the bottle neck. There is a bottleneck a) which is created by demand and I agree that kind will just appear and reappear. There is bottleneck b) which is a design issue. Given an opportunity to avoid the clusterfuck of a last minute merge in heavy traffic while approaching the Fort Pitt tunnel from 376 is definitely (poor) design driven. On the other hand, I think the Squill tunnel is all psychological on the part of the driver.

Whatever the case, the opportunity to avoid those two bottlenecks for a time sensitive flight seem to be something Pittsburgh needs (at least, “ideally” in the engineering sense of the word). Still, how much traffic would it actually alleviate? I don’t see a southern bypass as opening up a lot of new sprawl, I’m more worried that it wouldn’t see the use to justify cost.

Don’t get me wrong, I think a dedicated light-rail sort of system from Monroeville to the airport is the preferred solution here. Something that is quick with no more than one or two stops along the way (for an express). I’d much rather ride a train to the airport (and leave my car in Monroeville) to drop off a friend/relative than drive all the way out to Moon.

My point is, there is a problem that should be addressed… be it a better transit system of a bypass. I choose transit over another road. I’m just arguing that there is a definite problem and it’s not just building a road because they can, they are just using the wrong solution to the problem.


Drewbacca
Participant
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On a related note…

The Proportion of Young Americans Who Drive Has Plummeted—And No One Knows Why
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116993/millennials-are-abandoning-cars-bikes-carshare-will-it-stick


fultonco
Member
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“If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

This old saying could be used to describe the approaches of our transportation agencies.

Regarding Cranberry Township, some might be delighted to learn that they have adopted a comprehensive bicycle program. Implementation is set to begin this month. Sounds to me like they are trying to achieve Bicycle Friendly Community status. It takes one enlightened community to perhaps set off a chain reaction in our suburbs.

There was one fellow who was at least willing to consider options other than a highway to solve our transportation problems. There are some aspects of the beltway that could end up being positive. However, without a comprehensive transportation solution, our problems will continue and probably become worse with time.

It is difficult to take on a gang of pork-loving homers, but then again, I did get into their heads, which was my purpose.


byogman
Member
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Preaching to the choir but

The 10 most corrupt states in the U.S.

We’re (already) #4!


The paper explains that construction spending, especially on big infrastructure projects, is particularly susceptible to corruption because the quality of large, nonstandard projects are difficult for the public to gauge, while the industry is dominated by a few monopolistic firms.

If that doesn’t scream mofosob I don’t know what does.


Marko82
Participant
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How many times do we have to stick a stake in this thing?

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf should complete the Mon-Fayette Expressway
Cost-effective plans have been offered to revitalize the Mon Valley
December 12, 2014

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2014/12/12/Gov-elect-Tom-Wolf-should-complete-the-Mon-Fayette-Expressway/stories/201412120038


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The zombie rumbles and possibly even breathes, as long as Joe Kirk is alive.

I want to rage and seethe in a response, but I suspect a better approach is to point out how antiquated that line of thinking has become, and to suggest that if you really want economic redevelopment, that there are much more cost-effective ways to accomplish that.


fultonco
Member
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Here’s hoping the $550 million appropriation of earlier this year will be put back into the ailing state budget and used for more important and meaningful projects.


jonawebb
Participant
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1. It’s not, mainly, a state budget issue. The Turnpike Commission has its own source of funds: tolls. Though sometimes it does get money from the state budget too. Its charter runs on floating bonds to build stuff. If it were to pay off all its bonds it could be dissolved and the toll roads would become state property.
2. There is a legal issue; the Turnpike Commission is required under earlier law to build the Mon-Fay. Which is why they can’t just drop it.
3. The environment impact statement for the Mon-Fay connection to Pittsburgh has expired, and would need to be redone. Which would require community input, including the Mayor agreeing. The last EIS was approved only because Murphy wanted state funding for the stadiums. And in the meantime, significant investments like ALMONCO have been made in the planned path for the Mon-Fay connection to Pittsburgh. They would not have been made if there was any realistic chance that the connection would be made.
4. There are always going to be advocates for connecting it to Pittsburgh somehow. And they can issue press releases. But the question is, do they have a realistic way to make their dreams come true?

Connecting it to the Parkway someplace, probably in Monroeville, makes some sense I think. It has to connect some place. But stop worrying about the connection to Pittsburgh.


aboykowycz
Member
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1. MFX and SoB are not, primarily, funded through toll revenue — the bulk of the funding for the project(s) comes from two little taxes, the Oil Company Franchise Tax and a bit of the gas tax. The last transportation bill upped the limit on the OCFT, which had the indirect effect of upping the $ yield for the MFX. But it’s still not enough to build out the MFX beyond 51, whether to Monroeville or Oakland. All it is is a leaky valve and a waste of money.

2. The PTC is authorized to build the MFX, and structurally it does what it’s authorized to do, but it’s not strictly speaking required to do it. There would be no penalty to the PTC if it just let the project linger in perpetuity on its to-do list.

3. yes

4. no, not at all.

It doesn’t have to connect anywhere, actually. It can stand forever as a monument to bad planning, ending in a mound of dirt in Large. But it’s important to remember that the only plan on the books, which is the Y-shaped connector of 24 miles of road connecting the existing MFX from 51 to I-376 in Oakland and Monroeville, is no longer feasible (if indeed it ever was) — the EIS has expired, and the money isn’t there, and development has meanwhile changed the landscape in the ROW to the extent that there would have to be substantial re-design in any case, AND there were logistical hurdles to construction that were never worked out in the original plan that remain unsolvable problems.

Mon Valley Progress Council and Joe Kirk can talk all they want about design alternatives and half-assed approximations and connections to Monroeville or the busway or whatever — NONE of those alternatives exists in any form other than as a pipe dream committed to cheap copy paper by some guys in Monessen. It’s truly pointless to debate whether or not it should connect here, there, or anywhere, when there is simply NO WAY it can go anywhere. What burns me up is that the PG is ok with printing this dreck. What if I were to come up with a plan for dancing unicorns that would solve all our accessibility problems for McKeesport — think they’d publish my idea? It has just about as much chance of being realized as this POS.


fultonco
Member
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To “aboykowycz” – well stated ! This whole idea is a complete waste of time, energy, and money we do not have.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I added my two cents:

“Anything built today, with whatever money, public or private, is at some point going to wear out and need major maintenance. The problem we have now is that there is much more to maintain or rebuild than we have money to do that with. Build even more on this scale? Are you nuts? Please, with the money we do have or think we might ever get, let’s fix what we’ve already built, and let this tired old idea die.”


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Yet another LTTE favoring this, which promptly gets universal rejection from the first 10 respondents, including Braddock mayor John Fetterman and myself.

* * *

Unrelated to the above, but in writing my P-G response, I encountered a new word: utbaph. There is a picture of an utbaph earlier in this thread, on the first page, in this post. (Used to be a Pizza Hut)


Pierce
Participant
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“It’s time for the Mon Valley to get its chance to develop like Cranberry and the airport corridor,”

Ugh. Aren’t those both ungodly sprawling messes of parking lots and office buildings/shopping malls/big box stores? I think Cranberry has sprawling housing developments too, but man, who the hell wants to live in those places?

Whenever somebody says they work in Cranberry, everybody around acts as if they have the plague or something and offers their condolences


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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I live, I die, I live again!

MFX loses Oakland arm, keeps swinging for Monroeville: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2015/06/18/Turnpike-officials-revive-Mon-Fayette-Expressway-extension/stories/201506180044

PennFuture: “We’re clearly disappointed”…. Eliminating the leg to Oakland “makes sense, but eliminating something that’s a really bad idea doesn’t mean the rest of it is a good idea.”


reddan
Keymaster
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Zombies are known for having limbs fall off occasionally. It’s part of their charm.

But at least the wild-ass guesstimate price tag is down to a measly $1.7 billion.


jonawebb
Participant
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I think that if you have to spend the money that’s been allocated on this highway, it makes sense to connect it to Monroeville. Though I’d much rather the money be spent on mass transit, or fixing existing infrastructure.


abf
Member
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Re: the busway extension, if there will be a trail built alongside it, like most of the current busway segment from Wilkinsburg east, and the busway/trail would run past Trafford near the Turtle Creek/Westmoreland Heritage trail, and past Rankin near the Carrie Furnace flyover bridge (to Carrie Furnace/Duck Hollow extension trail), this could yield some wonderfully awesome trail connections :-)


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that 12 months of tolls collected on Amos Hutchinson (Toll 66), the I-376 piece in Beaver County, and Toll 43 up to Large, do not even cover the cost of road salt used in five months of winter.

It would be really nice if someone could prove me wrong.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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@abf: The route on that PG map crosses the Mon near the confluence with Turtle Creek (where the town of Port Perry was, 100 years ago), and follows Turtle Creek and Thompson Run to 376. This route doesn’t touch Rankin or Trafford, it appears.

This is a waste of taxpayer money, a gift to the construction industry. Spend our tax dollars to maintain our crumbling bridges, roads, and sewers instead, and build a light rail network and a few hundred miles of bike trails, instead.

This freeway will cost about $100 million per mile, whereas an asphalt bike trail costs about $100,000 per mile.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Also, as a friend of mine points out, they’re apparently planning to slam the Mon River crossing right through the Edgar Thomson Works, Kennywood, and/or a twenty-line rail yard, or perhaps jump a 500 foot hill.

The problem with maps like http://www.post-gazette.com/image/2015/06/18/fayettebig-png is, they conveniently omit the stuff that’s already there. Even for Robert Moses, that only worked for so long…


erok
Keymaster
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oh, we forgot to tell everybody that we need to build a tunnel


edmonds59
Participant
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Maybe we can borrow that Bertha machine when Seattle is done with it.


Steven
Participant
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To me, it doesn’t look like it’s particularly close to Kennywood or Edgar Thompson. From Monroeville, they follow Chalfant Run into Turtle Creek, cross the Mon, then follow Thompson Run. These are river valleys, so I’m not sure what hills they’d have to go through either. It looks like they might well cross over the railroad yard there, but that’s no big deal. The existing MFE has plenty of bridges similar to the sort they’d need for that.


Drewbacca
Participant
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“Maybe we can borrow that Bertha machine when Seattle is done with it.”

Is it running again? Last I heard the thing was still broken… and they have softer soil there. I think we are better off breeding giant moles and/or worms.


edmonds59
Participant
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DB, that was facetious. Last I heard they were still trying to dig it free so it can be repaired. I hope they bought the extended warranty.


Marko82
Participant
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I still want to kill the MFE. But here’s what they’re doing to a road in Denver.
https://www.cpr.org/news/story/beyond-tolls-us-36-brings-buses-bikes-mix


Adam
Participant
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Considering it has taken them almost 70 years to build what’s been done so far, I think there’s some time before they get around to “finishing” this road 100 years from now LMFAO.

That whole thing is a joke since nobody even drives on it, since it won’t save you enough time vs taking alternate routes — and nobody wants to pay the tolls.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Regarding the US 36, Denver-to-Boulder freeway with bike trail, it sounds like a decent design, as bike trails close to freeways go:
http://36commutingsolutions.org/36cs/wp-content/uploads/US36-Bikeway-fact-sheet-REV-04-02-14.pdf
* Maintained by local jurisdictions … sweeping, striping, and snow and ice removal.
• In areas where the bikeway is directly adjacent to the highway, barrier will be installed to protect bicyclists
• At-grade crossings at major intersections were eliminated, where possible, during design.

But for us, no MFE would be better than MFE-with-bike trail. With $2 billion dollars, you could build 30,000 miles of asphalt bike trails. Or, if the priority is to help the Mon Valley economy, how about building 75 new schools (at $40,000,000 each) sprinkled throughout the Mon Valley.


jonawebb
Participant
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edmonds59
Participant
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Wow. Victor Edwards. Just, wow.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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US PIRG lists the MFX among “twelve proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $24 billion – [which] exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.” http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/highway-boondoggles-2

[via CityLab]


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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Coincidentally, the PA Turnpike Commission announced this week the Mon-Fayette Expressway continues to lurch forward, the zombie tollway that won’t die: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/9833134-74/inc-project-turnpike


Pierce
Participant
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This is such BS. I’m on 837 during rush hour going to Clairton and traffic isn’t that bad. Same going home. The portion I ride is a two lane road with no shoulders and cars have frequent opportunities to cross into the other lane to pass me. I’ve ridden on the McKeesport side and it also isn’t that bad either.

I don’t understand this project at all? My hunch is that people who live in South Hills/Bethal Park/Mt. Lebo might work in Monroeville and feel like having a slightly quicker way. If it costs 2bil and my math is right, that’s 8k 250k homes that could be built. Just move whoever doesn’t feel like driving. Can’t imagine there are 8k people doing this commute from Clairton to Monroeville. As public policy, it seems stupid to be to subsidizing people driving across the county twice a day.

Meanwhile, the section of mon valley they’re going through (where I live) is already cut up and divided by a lot of highways and busy roads in addition to the natural barriers of a valley and fairly steep hills. We don’t need more.


jonawebb
Participant
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OK this has nothing to do with people in Monroeville. The PA Turnpike commission has money from tolls and has a mandate from the legislature to spend it by building roads. This is being driven by the legislature.


Ahlir
Participant
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And of course the solution is simple:
Lobby to get public transit, including bicycle trails, declared a part of the Turnpike system. All of them have to do with making it easier for people to get from one place to another and promote commerce. Right? The only tricky part is making sure that the trails don’t get tolled…


jonawebb
Participant
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I was looking at the leadership of the Turnpike Commission — the chairman, Sean Logan, is CEO of Visit Monroeville, and formerly the mayor there. So I think I was probably wrong; this does have a lot to do with folks in Monroeville.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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There will be public meetings in early August to discuss the proposed extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway in Large (south hills) through Duquesne and Turtle Creek to Monroeville.

“Revived Mon-Fayette Expressway plans have some residents on edge”
http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2016/07/24/Revived-Mon-Fayette-Expressway-plans-have-some-residents-on-edge/stories/201607240044

Showing up for these meetings and squawking loudly “MFE bad / Public transit good” would be wise.


Bree33
Member
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Who needs to get from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville? Or vice versa. I live very close to the end of 43 in Monroeville… Few people probably chose to live in one and commute to the other. And if you’re not commuting, then you can just take back roads or 885/376. What people need are faster ways to get from Jefferson Hills (and everywhere along the 51 corridor) to downtown and from Monroeville to downtown. Like busways. T extensions. BIKE LANES.

Mostly I don’t want this because it cuts through my backyard but doesn’t help me get to work in downtown any faster. 43 is, IMO, one of the world’s most beautiful, traffic-free highways. No one uses it now. Who is going to use it to connect to Monroeville? I live right there and I wouldn’t use it because I don’t want to pay the toll. I already don’t use 43 because I don’t want to pay the toll. This is NUTS.

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