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Penn Township, local councils call for new turnpike ramp

Jacob Tierney

A crowded field is now calling for a new turnpike interchange between the Monroeville and Irwin exits.

Jeannette, Manor and Murrysville councils over the summer each passed resolutions supporting the project and joining Penn Township, which passed a similar measure in April.

“These four communities recognize the need to support the improvement of our regional infrastructure,” Penn Township Manager Alex Graziani said in a statement. “Better access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike leads to better access to Pittsburgh and places north and west of the city.”

The possibility of a ramp in Penn Township has been a topic of conversation for more than a decade. The discussion was revived last year with two studies on the feasibility of building a turnpike ramp in the township.

The first, performed by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, found it could cost about $30 million to build a cashless interchange. The second study, commissioned by the township and performed by Delta Development, found a new ramp would be profitable within five years.

The turnpike passes through Penn Township but does not offer motorists a way to exit. Advocates say a new interchange would give Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs easier access to the city and encourage development.

“If our future only has the infrastructure we currently have now in existence, then our region’s growth will be restricted,” Graziani said.

Building a ramp in Penn Township would take serious bureaucratic wrangling. The SPC study suggested building ramps on state Route 130 would bring another
8,000 cars a day to the already-busy road.

Improving the road to handle that traffic would more than double the cost of the ramp project — from about $30 million to $68 million. It would also require coordination between PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

The Turnpike Commission is in the early stages of a turnpike widening program between Irwin and Pittsburgh. Penn Township leaders believe a new ramp could be less expensive if it was built in conjunction with already-planned construction.

Township and county leaders will continue to ask the Turnpike Commission to consider a ramp, though nothing has been announced yet, Graziani said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.


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