As Biden heads to Pittsburgh to talk infrastructure, Mon Valley legislators urge federal investment in two long-awaited projects

Projects would open region for economic turnaround, investment in communities

McKEESPORT, March 29 – As President Joe Biden plans a stop in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to unveil his vision for a massive investment in infrastructure, several state representatives of the Mon Valley are urging the president and Congress to invest in the region – and help kickstart the local economy.

“As we start to emerge from the pandemic, we need to talk about what comes next – and that includes investing in our nation’s infrastructure,” said Rep. Austin Davis, one of the state representatives. “I agree with President Biden – and I urge him and members of Congress to look at several vital projects in the Mon Valley.”

On Friday, Davis, along with state Reps. Nick Pisciottano, Summer Lee and Brandon Markosek, wrote a letter to the region’s congressional delegation asking them to consider two major infrastructure projects as they discuss building programs – the extension of the Martin Luther King East Busway and the last leg of the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

“It is estimated that these two projects would create more than 21,000 long-term jobs, bring businesses to the Mon Valley, increase housing opportunities, reduce traffic on other roadways, and create a beltway-style link from the south to the Turnpike,” wrote the representatives.

During his speech in Pittsburgh, Biden is expected to lay out the first part of his multitrillion-dollar economic recovery package, focusing on rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure. While the busway and highway extensions projects have been discussed and studied for decades, both have languished without a dedicated source of funding – funding the Mon Valley legislators hope could be included in Biden’s proposal.

For decades, the Mon Valley has struggled with significant transportation challenges making it difficult for residents to travel to places in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. In addition to connecting residents of the Mon Valley to the rest of the region, the lawmakers noted that these two projects will also connect the businesses and employers of the valley, with employees, customers and the logistical networks of Allegheny County and beyond.

“Not only would these projects allow for the movement of people or goods, but for investment in the long underserved and under resourced communities that we collectively represent,” the lawmakers wrote. “The completion of these projects will not only change the trajectory for the Mon Valley but would have a lasting impact on the entire region and all southwestern Pennsylvania.”