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Track-sharing plan revisited

By Kim Burger; staff writer

Federal highway officials have asked the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commision to make another try at getting two railroad companies to share track to make way for the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

The proposal is one introduced by independent architect Kevin Silson of Oakmont and involves relocating railroad track to make room for a portion of the proposed toll road on the south shore of the Monongahela River.

The railroads, whose cooperation is considered paramount to the project, have so far indicated they aren't interested in the plan.

Silson's plan involves relocating CSX track -- tthat goes from Homestead to Station square -- to a shelf it would share with competitor Norfolk Southern. He believes it could cost less, require less taking of land and would open up riverfront to development.

The Federal Highway Administration wants the turnpike commission to go back to CSX Transportation Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. and ask them again, said Tony Mento, an engineer with the administration.

"We're not sure the right people were out there (to see the proposed route) and that they really understood what we're trying to do," Mento said.

The turnpike commission still favors a highway route on the north shore of the river.

But it has been studying Silson's plan for the past year as a possible option.

Both railroad companies responded with letters indication the idea did not suit them.

Turnpike engineers also are looking at moving some CSX track just enough to make room for the highway, without requiring it to share the shelf.

The turnpike commission has said that Silson's plan might work. However, it has yet to study the impact on traffic and the enviroment.

The commission is looking to federal guidance on how to proceed.

Engineers discussed Silson's plan in Feburary, and again Tuesday, Mento said.

March 5, 1999 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review