The Cranberry Connector: Creating
a Connection Between Interstate 79 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike
By James B. Struzzi II, Community Relations
PENNDOT Engineering District 10
February 22, 2002, Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Bradley
L. Mallory, along with state and local officials, broke ground
to begin the $44.3 million Interstate 79 Pennsylvania Turnpike
Connector Project, also known as the Cranberry Connector, in
Cranberry Township, Butler County. After more than a decade
in the making, the project, when completed in 2004, will provide
a direct link between the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) and I-79.
"Today, we begin this $44 million investment in Western
Pennsylvania that will join the seemingly natural flow of these
two important roadways," Mallory said. "This is truly
an historic event . . . the direct connection of a major east-west
roadway with a major north-south highway here in southern Butler
the time has come to start making that connection."
For years, no direct connection existed between the Interstate
and the Turnpike in the Western Pennsylvania region. To travel
between these two important east-west/north-south highways,
motorists, truck drivers, and daily commuters had to travel
through Cranberry Township's heavily traveled business corridor
on Routes 19 and 228.
Forcing over-the-road trucks and others vehicles into the intersection
and Cranberry Township's commercial business area caused increasing
levels of congestion and delays. More than 45,000 vehicles pass
through the intersection of Routes 228 and 19 on an average
Township has seen tremendous residential and business growth
over the past several years. Recognizing the potential impact
this growth would have on the region's transportation network,
PENNDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), and local,
state, and regional officials began to conceptualize a direct
connection between Interstate 79 and the Turnpike in the late
In 1989, the design consultant for the Cranberry Connector
Project, Gannett Fleming, Inc., of Pittsburgh began the preliminary
design process for the Connector. Many versions of the project
have since been presented and suggested over the years. Funding
shortfalls delayed the project in the mid 1990s until value
engineering was used in 1997 to trim $16 million off the project's
overall cost. Value engineering is a process used to review
a project to find areas where improvements can be made to reduce
costs. Through this process, cost saving solutions included
constructing additional I-79 lanes within the existing median
area to minimize required right-of-way.
project-made possible through the cooperative efforts of PENNDOT,
PTC, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Southwestern
Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) and Cranberry, Pine, and Marshall
Townships in Allegheny County-is one of the largest projects
built to date in Engineering District 10. The prime contactor
for the project is the Dick Corporation of Pittsburgh, PA.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to build this regionally
significant project," said Richard H. Hogg, PENNDOT DistrictEngineer.
"The residents of Cranberry Township, Butler County, and,
really, all of Western Pennsylvania have waited many years for
this project, and thanks to the cooperation of many State, Federal,
and local agencies, the Cranberry Connector will soon become
The project includes three new bridges that will carry the
Connector over the Turnpike, I-79, and Route 19. In addition,
a new three-lane bridge will be constructed to carry Freeport
Road over I-79. Planning and building projects like the Connector
require great levels of cooperation.
"Creating successful projects of this magnitude and importance
is only possible through the cooperative efforts of PENNDOT,
PTC, FHWA, SPC, the Butler County Commissioners, local officials,
and other State and Federal agencies," said Hogg. "This
project is truly a culmination of teamwork and partnership."
The second phase of the Cranberry Connector, the I-79/Route
228 "missing ramp" project, was completed this past
fall. The new ramps provide access from Route 228 to southbound
I-79 and access from northbound I-79 to Route 228. Phase I,
the seven-lane Route 228 bridge replacement project, was completed
in 2000 along with improvements to Route 228 constructed through
a partnership with Mine Safety Appliances, PENNDOT, Cranberry
Township, the Woodmont Corporation and CREDCO, Inc.
For more information on the Cranberry Connector and the efforts
of the PENNDOT and the PTC in Cranberry Township, Butler County,
access the project's website at www.cranberryconnector.com.
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