Top 10 Roads

Dec. 8, 2003
One didn't have to walk far for a pair of shoes during the industrial boom of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Back then an industry like steel or coal had much of the U.S. riding its coattail, and towns came equipped with their own destiny.

One didn't have to walk far for a pair of shoes during the industrial boom of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Back then an industry like steel or coal had much of the U.S. riding its coattail, and towns came equipped with their own destiny.

“A lot of the towns along the river were self-sustaining places,” Joe Agnello, public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, told Roads & Bridges. “They had their own shopping and business districts. Now the region is more tied together economically. What is good for one part of this region is good for the region as a whole.”

The Mon-Fayette Expressway will serve as a big part of economic recovery for the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The route will provide a seamless north/south system to and from the city of Pittsburgh. Divided into four construction phases, the job will cost over $3 billion and stretch 70 miles altogether. The size and scope make it an obvious No. 1 choice for R&B’s third annual Top 10 Roads list. But adding more glitz to the glamour is the potential of helping the masses.

“It will help repopulate and revitalize areas that have lost population and jobs over the last 20 to 30 years,” said Agnello. “This road should be a major economic generator for this corridor.”

Construction on Project 1 of the Mon-Fayette Expressway consisted of a total of 12 miles of two-lane concrete pavement. Eight miles in Pennsylvania were opened on March 1, 2000. West Virginia’s four miles is still in hard-hat mode.

Project 3 (17 miles) is a showcase of bridges. A total of 18 were built, 13 of them dual bridges for a total span count of 3. Seven reach more than 900 ft, the star being the Joe Montana Bridges. Located near the legendary quarterback’s hometown of New Eagle, the dual bridges measure over 2,400 ft in length and are 252 ft high.

“The bridges span a railroad trussle that opened in 1931 but is still active. They had to haul big cranes down in the valley and assemble them on site,” said Agnello.

Project 2 (15 miles) is in final design phase and is scheduled to begin by late 2005. The longest of the legs—Project 4 (24 miles)—should achieve environmental clearance by May 2004.

In terms of dollar weight this is the largest such task in Pennsylvania Turnpike history. The state’s general assembly has set up two streams of ongoing funding. One is a 14% share of the revenue generated from the Pennsylvania Oil Co. Franchise Tax, which creates $45 million a year. A motor license fund supplies $28 million annually, and to date the Turnpike has received $54 million in federal highway money. With $1.7 billion already committed, Agnello said the general assembly might set up a third funding stream in the future.

2. SH 130

Austin, Texas

SH 130 will indeed be something to remember in the Lone Star State. The $1.4 billion, 90-mile toll road will carry seven system interchanges and 130 bridges. The largest section will carry four to six lanes of traffic. The project started this year and will take four years to complete.

3. Grandview Triangle Interchange

Kansas City, Mo.

Battles occurring at the Triangle have often been one-sided—with traffic sitting on the losing end. The intersection of I-470, I-435 and 71 Highway is in the process of being modernized. Additional lanes and wider shoulders will help diffuse the confusion at the Triangle, which before construction had 64 movements.

4. I-74

Peoria, Ill.

The I-74 project is the largest downstate contract Illinois has ever seen. At a cost of $400 million, the main artery for Peoria will receive new overpasses, new pavement and safer entrance and exit ramps. Brighter lighting also will be installed.

5. LA 1

Golden Meadow, La.

Southern swamp land likes to embrace this stretch of road every now and then. Annual flooding has officials set to build a 17-mile elevated four-lane highway and replace an existing lift-span bridge with a high-level bridge. It will cost approximately $520 million to fix this major evacuation route, which is 50 miles south of New Orleans.

6. I-65

Southern Indiana

There is nothing faint about the Revive 65 project on the southern edge of Indiana. Workers are improving a 10-mile stretch of the interstate, which includes widening from four lanes to as many as eight lanes. Interchanges also will be reconstructed. The total cost stands at $250 million.

7. Marsha Sharp Freeway

Lubbock, Texas

Every so often a highway has a chance to grow and become a freeway. The Marsha Sharp Freeway Project features the construction of additional lanes and two connector flyover bridges. Crews will spend 11 years on the site at a cost of just over $260 million.

8. 114th Street/West Dodge Road Intersection

Omaha, Neb.

Daily traffic at this site is expected to crest at 157,000 vehicles by 2025. With limited room to expand horizontally, designers came up with dual 40-ft-high, three-lane expressway bridges. Each bridge will be one mile long. The project took off this year and will cost $100 million.

9. Rte. 53/I-290

Schaumburg, Ill.

This $62.3 million project involved complete pavement removal and reconstruction, widening of bridges, construction of new auxiliary lanes and resurfacing of ramps and local lanes.

10. I-10/I-410

San Antonio, Texas

The busiest exchange in the San Antonio area is now enjoying the fruits of a $50 million upgrade. To better accommodate more than 350,000 daily motorists, the project included elevating  connectors that form the I-10/I-410 interchange.

About The Author: Bill WIlson is editor of Roads & Bridges.

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