The Southern Beltway Project (U.S. 22 to I-79) was a significant element of a major transportation improvement plan for the southwestern Pennsylvania region being administered through the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. This project supplied a toll road system around Pittsburgh to the south and west, connecting the Pittsburgh International Airport with the Monongahela Valley and West Virginia to the south.
ms consultants provided preliminary design and comprehensive environmental documentation for a 116-square-mile project study area for the development of a new toll road expressway, which was to be a four-lane limited access highway with an anticipated four interchanges.
Preliminary environmental considerations (identification of key environmental constraints and controls) included: special population groups, socioeconomic characteristics, land use, community facilities and services, hazardous waste and materials, vegetation and wildlife, wetlands, farmlands, surface water resources, drainage and floodplains, cultural resources, noise and air quality, and threatened and endangered species investigations.
Five new toll road alternatives were evaluated in a Phase 1 Alternative Analysis Report. ms consultants conducted evaluations for these five alternatives and presented them in this report. Evaluation was based upon the alternative’s ability to meet the project need, environmental and socioeconomic impacts, as well as sound engineering practices. Based on this analysis, ms consultants was able to eliminate two alternatives from further investigation. The report documents the findings of these investigations as well as the public and agency involvement. The report was submitted and approved by the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration).
Key environmental considerations in the development of the evaluation of the project alternatives included:
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were employed to inventory resources, evaluate, and compare impacts among alternatives and to prepare graphics for presentations to agencies (ACM), the public, as well as the Transportation Executive Committee that participated in the project development process.