Top 10 Roads

A river’s replacement

Road Construction Article December 08, 2003
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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 yes">  connectors that form the I-10/I-410 interchange.

About the author: 
Bill WIlson is editor of Roads & Bridges.
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