Skip to main content

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

This abrupt end to US 40 east of Brownsville was the norm for nearly forty years. (Brian Reynolds)
For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville.

Brownsville in September 1967.  US 40 crosses over the new Lane Bane Bridge and a trumpet interchange with PA 88 sits in Washington County.  The Intercounty Bridge sits just south of the Lane Bane Bridge.  Construction on the US 40 four lane extension to Grindstone Road doesn't appear to be underway yet. (Penn Pilot)

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What was unknown (at least to me) is that what was supposed to have continued southeast or east from Grindstone Road.  Was it a separate US 40 that would have continued towards Uniontown? Or part of the original Mon Valley Expressway?  Or something else? Official PennDot maps of Fayette County (above at right) would never show any proposed or planned route beyond the interchange.

Fortunately since this article was originally written in June 2017, new information has come into light.  From a blog comment below - the highway was to continue southeast paralleling US 40 to the US 119 bypass of Uniontown.  Plans to extend the four lane US 40 to Uniontown existed to at least 1975; however, it appears that any further extension of the road would fall victim of PennDOT's troubled financial problems of the 1970s.  What is still unknown is what was the planned alignment of the road - would it be a full limited access highway or include driveways and intersections.  Where it would have tied into the US 119 freeway is also unknown. Finally, does the current PA Turnpike 43 follow any of the proposed highway's path.

Regardless, nothing would happen here until the later half of the 2000s.  It was then, that this old unused piece of expressway would be converted to a two lane at-grade roadway connecting US 40 and Brownsville to the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

Personally, I first came across this stub end in the early 1990s when going to watch my high school football team play Brownsville Area High School.  We came upon it via Grindstone Road.  Grindstone Road would briefly turn into a four lane boulevard type road and crossover the never completed highway.  During the 1990s, I would drive out to explore this area to search for any clues on what was never built here.  I've included some photos of how it looked in 2002 when a number of us toured this oddity.

Grading for the never built highway was still evident even with the overgrowth.  (Bee Family)
This overpass carried Grindstone Road over the unbuilt highway.

Right of way and clearing was done beyond the overpass to what would have been the eastern end of the ramps for the diamond interchange. (Bee Family)

(Bee Family)
Not long after those photos were taken, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission would begin construction to finally extend this route southeastwards towards Uniontown.  Known as the Redstone Connector, the roadway was built as a two lane highway that is served to connect US 40 and Brownsville to the Mon-Fayette Expressway.  The highway, though built as two lanes with a center turning lane, can be expanded to a four lane road keeping the center turn lane if traffic volumes and development warrant.  The diamond interchange with Grindstone Road would not survive the construction.  It was eliminated and changed to a normal signalized intersection.  A return visit in December 2006 showed construction well underway on the Redstone Connector and the new roadway would open one year later in December 2007.

Grading of Redstone Way in December 2006 (Adam Prince)

A view of the under construction Redstone Connector (Redstone Way) from the former Grindstone Road overpass.  THough it looks like the diamond interchange ramps would remain in this photo, they would be removed as the interchange was replaced with a traditional signalized intersection (Adam Prince)
The eventual construction of Redstone Way is a rare case in Western Pennsylvania and actually throughout Pennsylvania of long shelved highway plans coming to life and completion.  Although it is unknown what the original plan for US 40 east of Brownsville was, the stub ends of a highway that would go nowhere for nearly forty years found a new purpose and an ultimate destination.  If you have any background information on what any of the proposed plans for US 40 in Brownsville were to be, please shoot me an email or leave a comment.

Sources & Links:

Comments

FiliumBonus said…
According to the 25 Mar 1975 The Evening Standard (Uniontown PA):

Proposed construction of a four-lane roadway (Route 40) from the Grindstone Rd. to Uniontown has been held up due to an Environmental Impact Statement and changes necessitated by the Brier Hill "new town" project falling through. A public hearing should be held within the next two months but construction is at least three years away. The project includes a 6.9-mile section from the interchange at the Grindstone Rd. to Rocks Works at a cost of $14 million and another section from Rocks Works to the Uniontown by-pass, four miles at an estimated cost of $15 million.

That is the last reference to this project that I can find in local papers.
Adam said…
Thank you so much for the additional information!

Popular posts from this blog

The Sierran Death Highway, Blackrock Road

Back in 2016 I was pursuing dangerousroads.org looking for a interesting paved road akin to Kaiser Pass Road and Mineral King Road both which I had done earlier in the year.  I found what I was looking for in Blackrock Road located in rural eastern Fresno County at the confluence of the Kings River with it's North Fork.


Suffice to say that if I was looking roadways on dangerousroads.org it probably lends suggestion that Blackroad is somewhat on the hazardous side, it is.  Blackrock Road is an approximately 26-27 mile long one-lane road located in Sierra National Forest.  Blackrock Road is partially paved running from the Bailey Bridge at the Kings River north to the Wishon Reservoir roughly following the west bank of the North Fork Kings River.  Every documentation I've seen shows the road is really spelled "Blackrock" as opposed to "Black Rock" like the nearby Pacific Gas & Electricity Reservoir.

My goal on Blackrock Road was simple; I wanted to see al…

Ghost Town Tuesday; Mannfield, FL and the stairway to Hell

Back in 2015 I went searching the Lecanto Sand Hills for the original Citrus County Seat known as Mannfield.  Unlike Centrailia in Hernando County and Fivay in Pasco County I did find something worth seeing.



Mannfield is located in the Lecanto Sand Hill section of Withlacoochee State Forest somewhat east of the intersection of Citrus County Route 491 and Mansfield Road.

Mannfield was named after Austin Mann and founded in Hernando County in 1884 before Citrus County Split away.  In 1887 Citrus County was split from northern Hernando County while Pasco County was spun off to the south.  Mannfield was selected as the new Citrus County seat due to it being near the county geographic center.  Reportedly Mannfield had as many as 250 people when it was the County Seat.  The town included various businesses one might include at the time, even a sawmill which was common for the area.  In 1891 Citrus County voted to move it's seat to Inverness which set the stage for the decline of Mannfi…

Route 66 Wednesdays; The Twin Arrow Trade Post and Padre Canyon

Back in 2015 I revisited some of my favorite derelict haunts along former segments of US Route 66 between Flagstaff and Winslow.  The first stop was east of Winona at the Twin Arrows Trade Post.   The ruins of the Twin Arrow Trade Post is located immediately east of Padre Canyon off of I-40/US 180 exit 219.






The Twin Arrows Trade Post was originally started in the late 1940s as the Canyon Padre Trading Post.  Apparently business at the Canyon Padre Trading Post didn't start taking off until the two 25 foot arrows pictured above were put in and the name was changed to the Twin Arrows Trade Post in 1954.  I'm to understand the name change to Twin Arrows was partially inspired by close proximity to the Navajo Nation in addition to the booming business at the nearby Two Guns Trade Post to the east at Canyon Diablo.  The Twin Arrows Trade Post shuttered for good in the 1990s and has been sitting on the south side of I-40/US 180 ever since.  To the north of I-40/US 180 the Twin Arrow…