Construction on the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s first two slip ramps — access roads that allow E-ZPass customers to enter or exit between regular interchanges — is now complete.

In early 2000, construction crews began working on a westbound-on and a westbound-off ramp to the Pennsylvania Turnpike approximately one mile east of the Fort Washington Interchange (exit 26) in Upper Dublin, Montgomery County.

Slip ramps are an important component to the success of E-ZPass, which was launched at Turnpike interchanges in southeastern and south-central Pennsylvania on Dec. 2. Initially, E-ZPass customers — from Harrisburg West (#18) to the Delaware River Bridge (#30) on the east/west mainline and from Mid-County (#25A) to Lehigh Valley (#33) on the Northeast Extension (I-476) — will be able to pass by toll booths without stopping to pay toll.

For commuters in the busy Philadelphia region, slip ramps will provide some congestion relief. E-ZPass customers traveling westbound on the Turnpike (from points east of Fort Washington) can avoid the Fort Washington Interchange by exiting the Turnpike using the new off-slip ramp at the intersection of Office Center Drive and Virginia drive in the Fort Washington Office Center Park. Likewise, motorists with E-ZPass leaving Fort Washington Office Center Park, the communities of Upper Dublin, Lower Gwynedd, and Springfield will be able to access the westbound Turnpike by entering the on-slip ramps at Office Center Drive and Virginia Drive instead of using the interchange.

Because only E-ZPass customers will be using the slip ramps, customers using the Fort Washington Interchange (exit 26) can expect faster traffic flow and decreased congestion at the interchange.

Additional slip ramps are being considered for areas along the Turnpike near large businesses or corporate parks, allowing customers to enter or exit the Turnpike closer to their workplace.

"E-ZPass will make traveling easier, safer and more convenient and efficient for our customers, and slip ramps are essential to making the technology work even better," said Turnpike Executive Director John Durbin.

Numerous improvements were made to Office Center Drive/Virginia Drive and Susquehanna Road in the area of the intersections. Those improvements included road widening, adding turning lanes and upgrading traffic signals. Contractors also installed lighting and signing in the area. Landscaping for the Fort Washington slip ramps (exit 26A) included the planting of more than 231 trees.

"The Fort Washington slip ramps will be a model for possible future slip ramps at other locations," said Durbin. "We will be looking at them very closely."

Contractors for the Fort Washington slip ramps were Allan A. Myers Inc. of Worcester, Montgomery County. Construction managers were URS, Inc. of King of Prussia. Total construction cost for the Fort Washington Slip ramps was $5.1 million.

A brick structure to house the electronic toll collection computers and equipment and overhead gantry signs — seen here under construction — are integral parts of the Fort Washington Slip Ramps.