Completion of Mon-Fayette Expressway and Extension of Busway East Would Bring Economic Benefits According to New Report
PITTSBURGH, PA The proposed extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway (E/BEE) will play a critical role in enhancing economic development and job growth in the Mon Valley by improving transportation access in the region, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C., -based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, "Extending the Mon-Fayette Expressway and Busway East (E/BEE)" Reducing Traffic Congestion, Enhancing Economic Vitality, Improving Public Safety, and Accommodating Desirable Development in the Mon Valley in the Pittsburgh Area," examines the impact of the proposed 13-mile extension of the Mon- Fayette Expressway from PA Route 51 to I-376 in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and the extension of the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway East by 2.8 miles from its current terminus in Swissvale, Pennsylvania, to the extended Expressway in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
According to the TRIP report, the benefits of the Expressway completion - at an estimated cost of $1.7 billion - include the improvement of access and mobility in the economically distressed Mon Valley area, including industrial brownfield sites in Duquesne, McKeesport and Keystone Commons in East Pittsburgh. This would result in increased economic development opportunities along the corridor and would complete the entire Mon Valley Expressway system from I-68 in West Virginia to I-376 in Monroeville.
Extension of the Busway East - at a cost of approximately $100 million - would allow for improved mobility between East Pittsburgh and Oakland, while improving transit access from the proposed Expressway project north of PA Route 51 as well as completed sections south of PA Route 51. The Busway East would also provide traffic congestion relief on the Parkway East and allow for significantly enhanced transit access for the Monroeville, East Pittsburgh and Duquesne areas, and communities located along the Expressway and busway extension.
"The PA Route 51 - I-376 Mon-Fayette Expressway project will address a long-term deficiency in highway access in the Mon Valley that has severely limited its economic recovery," said Joe Kirk, Coordinator of the Expressway Completion Campaign. "The TRIP analysis of the Expressway clearly documents the value and benefits of the Mon Fayette Expressway. While recognizing they are separate projects, advancement of the Expressway project would support a study underway by the Port Authority to determine the feasibility of extending the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway from Swissvale to a planned Expressway interchange in East Pittsburgh. The busway extension would provide the added benefit of improved regional mass transit access into Pittsburgh. The first step is to ensure that the Mon Fayette Expressway project advances to construction as soon as possible."
Construction of the Mon-Fayette Expressway or construction of the combined Expressway and Busway will significantly reduce travel time in key travel corridors in East Pittsburgh. The following chart indicates one-way travel times between key destinations in East Pittsburgh using the current transportation system, estimated one-way travel times with completion of either the Expressway extension or the combined Expressway/Busway extension and reductions of one-way travel times as a result of improved transportation service in the region.
"Completion of the last section of the Mon Fayette Expressway project will provide access to more than one thousand acres of prime commercial and industrial property in the Mon Valley," said Maury Burgwin, President of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce. "This section of the Expressway will address economic deficiencies that were a prime rationale for advancement of the entire project. We're glad that this section is finally advancing. "
The completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the extension of the Busway East would create numerous jobs during the estimated four-year construction phase as well as numerous long-term jobs created as a result of both projects. Based on the most recent estimate of the employment impacts of highway and transit investment generated by the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) with the Executive Office of the President, TRIP estimates that the construction of the E/BEE would support approximately 5,850 jobs annually in the construction and related sectors over a four-year period. The following chart provides employment estimates during the four-year construction period anticipated for completing the Expressway and Busway extensions.
Based on the Transportation Research Board's extensive analysis of the impact of improved transportation access on employment, TRIP estimates that the completion of the E/BEE would result in the creation of approximately 20,880 long-term jobs, including: 12,960 long-term jobs along the E/BEE corridor and approximately 7,920 jobs outside of the E/BEE corridor.
"The Mon Fayette Expressway is crucial for the economic development of the entire Monongahela River corridor," said John Easoz, Chairman of the Mon Valley Alliance. "We welcome and support the findings of the TRIP report that demonstrates the need for this project."
"The completion of the expressway and busway has the potential to transform the economy of the Mon Valley region," said Will Wilkins, TRIP's Executive Director. "These projects will reduce travel times, add jobs now and in the future, and allow for needed economic growth. Moving forward with the E/BEE will be a critical step in completing the economic and social recovery of the Mon Valley Region."