Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

    C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E

March 10, 1998     


Christina Hampton, (610) 279-1645, ext. 3785
Lowman S. Henry, (717) 939-9551, ext. 2934

Attention radio stations:
Voice actualities relative to this news release
can be obtained by calling the Turnpike's
Information Broadcast Service at 1-800-563-5425.


Harrisburg (PA) -- Preliminary work is scheduled to begin next week on the $34.6 million Schuylkill River Bridge/Diamond Run Viaduct construction and rehabilitation project between the Valley Forge (#24) and Norristown (#25) interchanges of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Montgomery County. Initial work will include roadway alterations and the placement of concrete barriers.

The project area was first opened to traffic in 1954. Since that time it has become the most heavily traveled four-lane section of the turnpike, utilized by over 50,000 vehicles each day. Traffic projections forecast usage along this corridor will increase dramatically by 2020.

The Schuylkill River Bridge/Diamond Run Viaduct project will include:

* Construction of a new 1,224-foot bridge over the Schuylkill River immediately adjacent to the south side of the existing bridge.

* Rehabilitation of the existing Schuylkill River Bridge

* Demolition and replacement of the Diamond Run Viaduct with two new structures separated by an embankment.

* Widening of the roadway within the project limits to accommodate the future need for three travel lanes in each direction.

When the project is completed, the new Schuylkill River Bridge will carry eastbound traffic, and the existing, rehabilitated bridge will carry westbound traffic. Initially, there will be two travel lanes in each direction. However, the bridges will be built to accommodate an additional lane in each direction when traffic volumes eventually require a six-lane highway from Norristown to Valley Forge.

The work will be performed by a joint venture of the IA Construction Corporation of Concordville and Tony DePaul & Son of Blue Bell which was awarded a contract last month by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

"Traffic volumes have been steadily increasing in the Philadelphia area," said Turnpike Executive Director John T. Durbin. "These improvements are vital to reducing congestion and improving mobility through this corridor."

"However," Durbin continued, "this is one of the most complex mainline construction projects ever undertaken by the Turnpike while maintaining four-lane traffic flow. Lanes through the construction zone will be 11-feet wide rather than the Turnpike's usual 12-foot width, and there will be no shoulder. Thus, traffic will move more slowly through the project area and we anticipate this will cause some delays."

"We're urging motorists to be aware of the pending construction and to take traffic delays into account when planning their daily commute," Durbin added. "To minimize disruptions, and to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely through the construction zone, the Turnpike will maintain four lanes of traffic during peak hours with limited single lane closures during off-peak hours."

Work on the Schuylkill River Bridge/Diamond Run Viaduct project will get underway within the next thirty days and will continue through the summer of 2000. The project will be completed in three major stages to maximize efficiency and to minimize traffic impacts.

"We're going to do as much work as possible at night, but some slowing during daylight hours is unavoidable," Durbin said. "Ultimately, the temporary inconvenience will be worth the price because we will have a better highway and we will have built the infrastructure for future expansion of the Turnpike in that area to six lanes."

Variable message signs located at milepost 323.5 Eastbound (West of the Valley Forge Interchange), Milepost 335.2 Westbound (East of the Mid-County Interchange) and at milepost A3.6 Southbound on the Northeastern Extension will be utilized to advise travelers of construction activity and potential traffic delays.

Additionally, the Turnpike's new Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) system is expected to be activated within the next several weeks. Travelers will be able to tune to AM 1640 and obtain construction and traffic information. HAR units have been constructed at the Valley Forge Service Plaza, and the Mid-County, Lansdale, Downingtown and Willow Grove interchanges. Travelers can also consult the Turnpike's site on the worldwide web (www.paturnpike.com) or call 1-800-331-3414 for news and information related to the construction project.

Due to the project's duration and traffic volumes in the area, incident management strategies have been developed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and will be utilized during construction. Additional emergency pull-off areas will be located within the project limits, one Eastbound and one Westbound. Emergency call boxes will be available at each of the pull-off areas to give motorists an instant link to the Turnpike's Operations Center in Harrisburg. The Operations Center can also be reached anywhere on the Turnpike by calling *11 on a cellular telephone. Additional safety patrols will be conducted during peak travel time by the Turnpike's safety and maintenance departments and by the Pennsylvania State Police.


         P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649