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

    Contact: Lowman S. Henry,  (717) 929-9551, ext. 2934                        May 5, 1998

Voice actualities relative to this news release
are available from the Turnpike's Information
Broadcast Service by calling 1-800-563-5425.

$1.7 Billion Programmed to Upgrade Turnpike Through 2008

Harrisburg, PA -- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has approved an updated Capital Planning Program which calls for the expenditure of over $1.7 billion dollars on roadway improvements, infrastructure projects, and information technology development over the next ten years.

"Last year, for the first time in the Commission's history, we formally adopted a long-range capital plan," said Turnpike Executive Director John T. Durbin. "We said at the time that we would reassess the plan on an annual basis, making adjustments as needed to reflect the ongoing needs of the Turnpike system."

"This improved planning process has allowed us to identify an additional $470 million which will be available over the coming decade to help finance capital improvement projects," Durbin continued. "As a result, we will be able to do more projects, and do some projects sooner than we had projected last year."


Over eighty percent ($1,426,000,000.) of the capital improvements budget has been allocated for the Turnpike's highway system, including the roadway, bridges, tunnels and interchanges. As part of a total rebuild of the original Turnpike (Carlisle to Irwin), construction will begin this year on a five-mile section of highway in Westmoreland County. Another 19 miles of the total reconstruction project are now in the design phase and design work on an additional 19 miles will begin in fiscal year 1998-99. Additionally, the Turnpike will resurface 89 miles of roadway during the coming fiscal year, and will begin a study which will lead to the widening of the highway to six lanes between Valley Forge (Exit 24) and Mid-County (Exit 25A) on the Mainline, and between the Mid-County (Exit 25A) and Lansdale (Exit 31) interchanges on the Northeastern Extension.

Also underway or scheduled to begin during fiscal year 1998-99 is the Schuylkill River Bridge/Diamond Run Viaduct project; completion of construction on Phase I of the Delaware River Bridge redecking project and completion of design work on Phase II; reconstruction of the New Stanton Viaduct and rehabilitation of three bridges near Milepost 282. The Allegheny Tunnel Transportation Improvement Study is currently underway and the Turnpike will conduct an in-depth inspection of the Lehigh Tunnel this year. A complete rehabilitation of the Breezewood and Lehigh Valley interchanges has begun, as has the design work for the Gettysburg Pike Interchange. Additional lanes are being added to the Carlisle and Reading interchanges.

Looking ahead to Capital Planning Program projects scheduled between 2000 and 2008, the Turnpike anticipates initiating design on 68 miles of total reconstruction of the original Turnpike; continual milling and overlay of the roadway not reconstructed at the rate of once every ten years; two additional interchange rehabilitations; redecking of the Susquehanna River Bridge and approximately 50 projects involving bridge redecking, widening and replacement.


The capital plan projects the expenditure of $147,000,000 in infrastructure improvements over the next decade. On tap for the 1998-99 fiscal year are 55 projects involving 30 facilities, and major equipment purchases. Among the projects to be undertaken during fiscal year 1998-99 are: design work on the rehabilitation and expansion of the Turnpike's main administration building near Highspire; new lighting for the Tuscarora Tunnel; environmental upgrades such as replacement of underground storage tanks and the construction of new waste water treatment systems; and a number of facilities improvement and maintenance projects.

Service plaza projects planned for the coming fiscal year include improvements to the parking lots at the New Stanton and Hickory Run service plazas (currently under construction), water supply system improvements at Sideling Hill, parking lot alterations at the North and South Somerset service plazas, roofing and HVAC replacements at various plazas and the completion of a service plaza marketing analysis. Between 2000 and 2008, the infrastructure program plans call for lighting to be replaced at the Blue Mountain and Kittatinny Mountain tunnels; and for improvements to be made to the Allentown and Lawn service plazas.


A total of $145,000,000 is earmarked over the coming ten years for investment in information Technology, including an Integrated Fare Collection System with Electronic Toll Collection (called E-ZPass) across the entire mainline. Design, scheduling and testing of this system is well underway, with planned implementation in the Philadelphia region by June of 2000. The initiative also calls for the construction of several entry and exit ramps, called slip ramps, between interchanges which would utilize E-ZPass only.

The Information Technology Department will undertake 31 projects during fiscal year 1998-99 including upgrading the Turnpike's emergency call box and telephone systems. The communications infrastructure of the Turnpike will also continue to develop with the rebuilding of microwave towers, the transition to digital technology, implementation of local and wide area networks for the Central, Eastern Regional and Western Regional offices, and planning toward a Turnpike-wide fiber optics system.

Additional information technology projects include the transition to a networked PC Desktop hardware & applications standard, development of an executive information management system, and Year/2000 systems compliance. In addition, new software applications for human resource management, the computer aided dispatch system, and the audit-review-traffic systems are in the process of development.

(For additional information on projects in your area,
contact Lowman S. Henry at 717-939-9551, extension #2934.)


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