Mon Fayette Expressway to integrate new technology into construction project

PITTSBURGH — Toll road 43 stretches for miles to the south, but to the north new things are coming.

“This stuff is on the cutting edge, and the turnpike is right there trying to make these innovations,” said Julie Vandenbossche, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Out in the trees, 14 miles will be built to connect 43 to the Parkway East in the final piece of the Mon Fayette Expressway. But the turnpike is partnering with researchers at Pitt to add new technology to this construction.

“The use of the materials in the pavement to construct for energy harvesting,” Vandenbossche said.

When you drive, your car’s movement will power the signs and lights along the road. Plus, the researchers are looking at adding charging elements into a section of the road to see if it will be capable of charging electric cars as they drive.

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“It’s futuristic, but we are probably going to be able to identify things we haven’t even thought of yet,” said Joseph Szcur, the director of iRise.

Noise barriers will be built along sections that will help eliminate pollution by the vehicles, and a twin digital model of a section of the road at Pitt will help determine the wear and tear as construction happens.

With all these firsts being tested in Western Pennsylvania, the big question is, Will it work?

“I don’t think it’s a matter of if it will be a success but a matter of to what extent, and that’s what is exciting,” Szcur said.

It’s not clear yet which test project will go on which portion of this new stretch. If they do work, the turnpike plans to implement the ideas into future projects across the state.

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