PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WBOY) — There are now more ways to access a shortcut to the Pittsburgh International Airport, south of the city, PA Turnpike Commission officials announced.

In October 2021, the Southern Beltway, also known as PA Turnpike 576, partially opened.

The beltway connects Interstate 79, in the Southpointe area to the airport. Now the full interchange where the beltway and I-79 meet is open to drivers.

Since the initial opening in October, nearly 8,000 vehicles a day, have used the new route, Turnpike officials said. With the full interchange open, officials expect that number to jump to 10,000 per day.

“This $800 million project is significant for motorists in the corridor because it will help ease congestion on
arteries like the Parkway West, I-79, and State Route 50. Additionally, it will provide emergency-response
vehicles, businesses, and the public with a safer alternative to rural, two-lane roads,” read a news release from the Turnpike Commission.

The Southern Beltway is a toll road that charges drivers through either the E-ZPass system or through a “toll by plate” system that takes a picture of each vehicle’s license plate and then sends an invoice to the vehicle’s owner. The Turnpike Commission also has a new program for drivers to pay those invoices, with cash, at participating businesses.

There are also plans to eventually connect the beltway with the Mon-Fayette Expressway in the east. That route would go from Morganza Road at I-79 to a new interchange on the expressway, south of Finleyville. The expressway, known as PA Turnpike 43, currently takes drivers, in West Virginia, from the Cheat Lake area, east of Morgantown, to Pittsburgh’s southeastern suburbs. That project is still in the design phase, is awaiting funding and has no set timetable.