Harrisburg – June 1, 2021 – At the request of state Senator Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hybrid in person and virtual public hearing to discuss the Mon Fayette Expressway and what this project will mean to the southwest region of Pennsylvania.
“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.”
According to TRIP, a national transportation research group, improving the efficiency of a region’s transportation system by expanding the capacity of highways, transit and intermodal facilities has been shown to enhance economic development opportunities and improve quality of life.
Maury Burgwin, President of the Mon Yough Chamber of Commerce, said that his organization fully supports the Mon Fayette Expressway calling it, “The single most important economic development issue for our region is completion of Mon-Fayette from Route 51 to Interstate 376.”
“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 continued.
TRIP research also shows that for every $1 million spent on urban highway or intermodal expansion, an average of 7.2 local, long-term jobs were created at nearby locations as a result of improved access.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.
Darrin Kelly, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council, said that his organization is fully supportive of the Mon Fayette Expressway, and they see this project as a continued opportunity to work with the business community of the region, coordinate with the federal government on lifechanging infrastructure improvements for Western Pennsylvania, and to provide 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.
Thomas Melisko, President, IUOE Local 66 said that with other projects in the region coming to a close, the opportunity for skilled union labor to be utilized in the building, completion, and maintenance of the Mon Fayette Expressway is an excellent opportunity for his union’s almost 8,000 members.
In his testimony, Mark Compton, CEO of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said that Pennsylvania Act 89 has been instrumental in the allowing projects like the Mon Fayette Expressway to come to fruition.
Brad Heigel, Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, discussed the need for forward thinking when it comes to the projects like the Mon Fayette Expressway. He said that he has been working with the University of Pittsburgh to analyze the need for electric charging stations along state roads as well as the possibility of electrified roads that will one day charge vehicles as they drive. Heigel also spoke about the need to maintain community engagement and properly inform residents of the construction that will be taking place as part of the Mon Fayette Expressway.
“No one should be blocked from economic opportunity, growth, or prosperity because of where they live. Adequate and well-maintained infrastructure that serves the needs of populations is essential to a successful economy. The Mon Fayette Expressway is an excellent example of building back better and providing resources and opportunity to every Pennsylvanian,” Sen. Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, said.
Below are all who participated in today’s hearing:
- Mark Compton, CEO, Pennsylvania Turnpike
- Brad Heigel, Chief Engineer, Pennsylvania Turnpike
- Darrin Kelly, President, Allegheny County Labor Council
- Thomas Melisko, President, IUOE Local 66
- Sean Logan, President, Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Maury Burgwin, President, Mon Yough Chamber of Commerce
Senators who attended this hearing in person and virtually included: Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D- Allegheny), as well as Senators Sharif Street (D- Philadelphia), Wayne D. Fontana (D- Allegheny), Lindsey Williams (Allegheny), Tim Kearney (D- Chester/Delaware), Maria Collett (D- Bucks/Montgomery), and Amanda Cappelletti (D- Delaware/Montgomery).
The full recording of this roundtable, as well as the written testimony from participants, can be found at senatormuth.com/policy. A full recording of this hearing can also be found on the PA Senate Democratic Facebook page.