So the day after I posted my “Government waste? You suck.” post I got an email from someone who has been working on the process of renaming the Parkway for the last 18 months. Because he asked me to not reveal his name or affiliation, let’s call him Bob.
Bob wrote to say three things:
1. PittGirl is hot.
2. He loves my blog.
3. If I wished, he would be willing to explain the issue.
Okay, maybe he didn’t say number 1 in so many words. I bet he’s thinking it though.
Bob wrote (edited slightly for brevity):
Here goes, as briefly and as sexily as possible: Since Route 60 was built past the airport in 1992, local officials have wanted to make it an interstate. The biggest reason is that when companies from across the country or around the world are looking to invest/relocate, they often want to be on an Interstate as one of their real estate criteria. Fast forward to a few years ago. When discussions started heating up again, PennDOT went to the Federal Highway Administration and said: “This highway looks like an Interstate, it has Interstate speed limits, let’s just call it an Interstate.” FHWA looked at the rule book which said if you want to make an existing highway an interstate, you first have to bring it up to current interstate standards. So, if the exit lane had to be 2,500 feet and the existing exit lane was only 1,800 feet, you had to add 700 feet. Never mind that Interstates all over America have less-than-optimal conditions (Parkway East at Squirrel Hill, perhaps.)
Over the course of several years, PennDOT working with other locals (including Hart and Santorum) finally wore down FHWA to ignore improvements that weren’t necessary for safety reasons and were only on the construction list to satisfy an overly officious reading of the regulations. So, the current plan and it’s $42 million cost consists of three major categories: the new signs, improvement of the Route 60-Route 22/30 interchange near Ikea which was scheduled to be fixed even without the Interstate designation; and reconstruction of about a half-mile of Route 60 in Lawrence County which currently narrows down to one lane in each direction for a spell rather than the required two lanes in each direction.
Nutshell: PennDOT worked aggressively to make sure we didn’t have to waste our money paying for federally required improvements that weren’t necessary.
And just think — that’s the sexiest I could make that “Behind the Music” story sound. Just imagine what it was like living it. Woo-wee. Never a dull moment.
Turns out that Bob is also a fan of The Shield; therefore, Bob is hot AND Bob is cool. We like Bob and now we’re all better informed.