Starting Friday afternoon, the Southern Beltway, PA Turnpike 576, will open in phases and should be completely open by late afternoon.
The 13-mile road connects I-79 in Washington County to Route 22 along the border of Allegheny and Washington counties, and connects to the existing 6-mile beltway section known as the Findlay Connector.
The Southern Beltway has been under construction since 2014, and is expected to cut travel time to Pittsburgh International Airport by half.
The road is tolled at three points, costing E-ZPass drivers $1.30 at each station, and $2.60 for drivers who toll by plate. The $800 million project has been in the making for nearly 40 years.
Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi said the Southern Beltway is more than just a quick trip to the airport, it’s a game changer for the local economy.
Maggi said the road goes through a lot of rural communities and it will help bring economic development.
“We already got developers. We got businesses that are very interested in locations and they are already buying property and preparing to build some of these facilities,” said Commissioner Larry Maggi.
Maggi said many companies that want quick access to the airport, now have their eyes on Washington County to bring their business.
He said the county can gain a lot from the new highway, to keep residents in the area and drawing more in.
“We’re seeing a lot of people having an interest in moving into this area and there are several great school districts that are adjacent to the highway,” said Maggi. “We can tell that by a lot of housing developers who have purchased property and who are in the process of building and selling homes.”
Business owners like at Vincent’s in Southpointe are hopeful the beltway will help them.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Adam Abbato, the owner of Vincent’s in Southpointe. “I think it’s fantastic that a new roadway is going in and I look forward to having more customers as a result of it.”
The beltway is expected to cut travel time to the Pittsburgh International Airport by half for some drivers, improve traffic and help ease congestion on the parkway west.
Many drivers in Washington County are thrilled.
“It will definitely cut back on the traffic, especially 376 is awful,” said Megan Agnew. “This will just open a new world for us.”
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