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PennDot opens bids on completing I-79/Parkway West Interchange

....thirty years later.

PennDot opened bidding on the construction of two "missing" ramps at the I-79/Parkway West (I-279/US 22/30) interchange (Exits 59A-B) in suburban Pittsburgh. I say "missing" because these ramps were not planned for in the original construction of the highway in the 1970s. The missing ramps are from I-79 South to US 22/30 West and US 22/30 East to I-79 North. Construction should start this fall and the ramps should open in 2009.

When the interchange was constructed in the early 1970s, I-79 actually was planned to actually take the ramp from I-79 onto the inbound Parkway West (I-279 North). I-279 would continue straight on what is now I-79 North today. But that changed when I-79 and 279 switched alignments in 1972. Anyways, the thinking at the time was that connections from I-79 South to the Airport and from the Airport to I-79 North could be done via PA 60 -- then a rural two lane road -- and connecting at what is now Exit 60. The hope was that PA 60 would be upgraded to at least a four lane divided highway or even a more limited access highway. Well, that along with many other highway plans for Pittsburgh never happened.

So thirty years later, a major freeway to freeway interchange is incomplete. Until 2009, that is. The interchange will become a three level stack interchange as the new ramp from US 22/30 East to I-79 North will fly over both highways. Also -- and you don't hear this at all in Western PA -- US 22/30 will be widened from four to six lanes from the I-79 interchange to the newly rebuilt Campbells Run Road intechange. A total of 1.6 miles. (For Pittsburgh, that's impressive.) I do not know as it's been years since i have traveled it, but I think that with the widening US 22/30 will be six lanes from I-79 to the PA 60 interchange (another incomplete interchange). But I may be mistaken about that.

Here's the story in Friday's Post-Gazette:

Commentary:

Although relatively small, this is an important improvement to Pittsburgh's highway system and the airport corridor. Since the early 1990's, the corridor has seen the completion of the Southern Expressway (A Freeway PA 60 connecting to the new airport terminal), there have been numerous upgrades to PA Business 60 (The old airport parkway), The West Busway, the Findlay Connector scheduled to open sometime in October 2006, and now completion of the I-79/Parkway West ramps. You gotta take what you can get.

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