$151 Million Construction Project to Begin on Northeastern Extension Later this Month

February 14, 2011

Contact: Mimi Doyle, Public Involvement Specialist
Public Information
610-239-4117

$151 Million Construction Project to Begin on Northeastern Extension Later this Month

Pa. Turnpike to reconstruct, widen six miles of I-476 just north of the Mid County Interchange

The southernmost six-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Northeastern Extension (Interstate 476) in Montgomery County is scheduled to get a major overhaul starting later this month when construction begins to rebuild and widen the toll road from four to six lanes. Work on this massive, $151 million reconstruction project will commence Feb. 28 and is expected to last nearly three years until completion anticipated in late 2013.

The project — funded wholly by toll revenues without any state or federal tax dollars — is being built by Walsh Construction Co. of Canonsburg, Pa. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission awarded the $151 million contract to Walsh on Dec. 21, 2010. The work area includes nearly six miles of roadway and bridge reconstruction on the Northeastern Extension starting approximately two-tenths of a mile north of the Mid-County Interchange (at milepost A20.31) encompassing Plymouth, Whitpain and Worcester townships. The northern project limit is just south of Berks Road (at milepost A25.67), less than five miles south of the Lansdale Interchange.

The section of I-476 between Mid County and the Lansdale Exit (# 31) is the heaviest-traveled, four-lane stretch of Pennsylvania Turnpike in the state. Originally opened to traffic in 1955, today this stretch of roadway carries 65,500 vehicles a day — more than any four-lane section on the Turnpike system. Traffic volumes on this section are expected to reach more than 100,000 vehicles per day by 2030.

This project will provide safer, more efficient travel for Turnpike customers. Full-depth reconstruction involves removing all original pavement and sub-base and replacing it with an entirely new roadway with gentler curves and grades. The existing, four-lane highway will be replaced with a six-lane highway that has full, 12-foot-wide shoulders to the left and right of the travel lanes. (By comparison, the current roadway has a 1-foot left shoulder and a right shoulder width of 8 to 10 feet.) All other facets of the highway will also be replaced, including lighting, barriers and guide rail, noise and retention walls and drainage systems.

To accommodate the new six-lane highway, three overhead bridges (bridges that carry traffic over the Turnpike) were replaced between 2008 and 2010. Seven additional mainline bridges (bridges that carry Turnpike traffic over local roads or waterways) will be replaced during this project.

Weather permitting Walsh anticipates limited work to begin Feb. 28 mostly within the Turnpike’s right-of-way. Initial work will include installation of warning signs on I-476 and at underpasses where the Turnpike crosses over local roads, along with clearing of trees and installation of erosion and sedimentation control measures. In addition, utility companies will be working to relocate assets affected by the project.

After work is finished on this southern stretch of I-476, the Turnpike will focus on widening the adjacent section to the north which includes four and one-half miles of toll road from Berks Road north to the Lansdale Interchange. Scheduled to begin in 2014, the northern portion is expected to be completed sometime in late 2016. The projects are part of a statewide initiative to rebuild the Turnpike from the ground up. To date, the Turnpike has rebuilt about 73 miles of roadway – most of it widened to six lanes.

Advanced notification of major work activities impacting traffic will be provided via regional media, variable message signs, E-Bulletins and postings on the Turnpike website, www.paturnpike.com. Project-specific questions can be directed to a 24-hour project hotline at 1-877-855-2545.

Turnpike motorists can also get up-to-date travel conditions by calling 866-976-TRIP (or 866-976-8747). This toll-free number gives audio advisories for the region in which you are traveling, including delays and closures. For a snapshot of conditions across the Turnpike, including access to traffic cams, traffic-flow monitors, audio advisories and more, visit the Interactive Travel Map at www.paturnpike.com/webmap.

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