Thanks to a $40 million conversion of 64 miles of roadway, Interstate 376 now officially extends through four counties--from the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Monroeville, in Allegheny County, to Interstate 80 in Mercer County.
The I-376 corridor now links between I-80, Pittsburgh International Airport, Downtown and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The roadway was previously designated as three different routes: I-279, U.S. Route 22/30 and PA Route 60. New I-376 placards have started to be installed along the entire Route 60 corridor, and signs currently covered in Beaver County will be uncovered in coming months.
In a written statement, Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, says this re-designation is, "one more important step in putting southwestern Pennsylvania on the map for more business investment."
"When businesses are looking to expand or move here, one of the first considerations is transportation access," he says. "[The re-designation] will help move the Pittsburgh region onto the lists of site selection consultants and other business investment decision-makers. Our region already has a great position on that map--within 500 miles of almost half of the U.S. and Canadian population--and the extended I-376 is one more way to reach both that market and that potential workforce. "
Though this re-designation has been part of a 15-year-long effort, work to really push the change came together in 2002, Yablonsky says, when the Allegheny Conference commissioned a study to identify key barriers the Pittsburgh region needs to address to attract more business investment, particularly in the Airport Corridor. The conclusion? Businesses want to be along an interstate.
Interstate designation was subsequently made a top priority by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-County Airport Partnership, which resulted in legislation passing in 2005 that supported the I-376 re-designation.
The re-designation was celebrated Fri., Nov. 6 with an event attended by PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler and federal, state and local officials, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Dennis Yablonsky, CEO, Allegheny Conference on Community Development; Jim Struzzi, press officer, PennDOT
Photograph courtesy of PennDOT