Sen. Brewster Wants $$$s for SW PA Transportation Projects

Mar 10, 2013

A Pittsburgh area state lawmaker is demanding funding for mass transit and completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway be included in the Corbett administration's transportation package.

State Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny), a member of the Transportation Committee, said one reason for prioritizing mass transit is because it's a job creator and an economic development opportunity. 

"It's important to get people to and from the retail areas, it's important for them in expanding their businesses in the Monroeville area for example," Brewster said.  "It's a big issue throughout the region."

Brewster added the same goes for the Mon/Fayette Expressway.

"When you're trying to bring in light industrial development, the first thing CEOs will ask you is how you get from point A to point B," Brewster said.  "It is an important economic development engine."

The Mon/Fayette Expressway is about two-thirds finished.  The last portion of the project that connects Jefferson Hills to Pittsburgh is estimated to cost $4 billion, but Brewster said the monetary burden of completing it shouldn't rely solely on the taxpayer.

"If we get creative, and we can identify seed money in the transportation budget I believe we can attract some private investment and make it a public/private project," Brewster said.  "If we don't identify that project as important within the state it's going to be difficult to get private money interested."

The most recently finished section of the Mon/Fayette Expressway, a 18-mile stretch between Uniontown and Brownsville, opened last July. That 4-year long project made 60 miles of continuous highway from I-68 in Morgantown, WV to Route 51 in Jefferson Hills.

Brewster didn't suggest a specific amount of taxpayer funds go toward the expressway and mass transit in the governor's transportation package, but noted the conversation should be how to invest in transportation funding, not whether to do so.  He suggested local officials discuss prioritizing transportation projects.

"I think those are the kinds of conversations that local mayors and commissioners and council people should have to make sure they get a bite of the apple," Brewster said.