Southern Beltway toll road opens in Pennsylvania

October 18, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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Decades in the making, a new 13-mile toll road in Pennsylvania called the Southern Beltway is now open to traffic, connecting U.S. Route 22 and Interstate 79.

On Oct. 14, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Southern Beltway, also known as the PA Turnpike 576. According to a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission news release, the toll road is between U.S. Route 22 and I-79 and connects to the Findlay Connector, which is a 6-mile beltway section. The new toll road leads to I-79 at the Allegheny-Washington county line.

There are three toll points on the toll road, which is an open-road tolling system that uses overhead toll gantries to charge customers. For a five-axle truck with an E-ZPass, the length of the Southern Beltway will cost $16.80. However, a truck paying Toll By Plate will have to pay $33.60 for the trip. Passenger vehicles will pay $3.90 with an E-ZPass and $7.80 with Toll By Plate. More information on toll rates are located here.

Since the toll road is brand new, transportation officials are warning motorists of wildlife on the roadway.

Also, PA Turnpike 576 should show up on GPS devices. However, availability of the toll road will vary by system. For more information about traffic conditions, go to 511PA.com.

“Without a doubt, the Southern Beltway will serve as an economic catalyst for the Greater Pittsburgh region,” PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said in a statement. “It will provide better access to sites being developed along the Energy Commerce & Innovation Corridor which is 52 miles of largely untapped private, commercial and industrial lands near the Pittsburgh International Airport. This, in turn, will support new employment in this area.”

Southern Beltway project map
The Southern Beltway project, which opened to traffic on Oct. 15, was broken into nine separate construction projects. (Source: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission)

The Southern Beltway project dates back to at least the mid-1980s when state lawmakers passed PA Act 61 of 1985 and Act 26 of 1991.

According to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, improving transportation conditions for the Monongahela River Valley has been a priority in Pennsylvania. A shift in focus from industry to highway access and mobility occurred in the late 1970s and 1980s. Acts 61 and 26 pushed the Monongahela River Valley/Fayette Expressway and Southern Beltway projects further to the top of the priority list.

Act 89 of 2013 allowed a new funding stream to accelerate progress of the Southern Beltway project. Specifically, it estimated to invest an additional $2.3 billion per year into transportation projects. Specifically, revenue from the bill was allocated towards state and local roads, bridges, public transport and turnpike expansion projects.

The Southern Beltway cost about $800 million. Transportation officials claim it will ease congestion on arteries like the Parkway West, I-79 and state Route 50. Also, the turnpike commission claims the toll road will be a safer alternative to rural, two-lane roads for emergency response vehicles, businesses and the public.

However, the Southern Beltway project is not 100% complete. Construction will continue at I-79 interchange until next spring. At that time, the full interchange will be open to traffic. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.