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:   Carl DeFebo, 717-939-9551, extension 2934

November 16, 1999


HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Turnpike will reestablish four-lane traffic patterns on a six-mile section of roadway between Interchanges 14 and 15 in Franklin County on Monday, Nov. 22, if not sooner. Traffic was limited to one lane in each direction due to a major, total-reconstruction project — the first time the Turnpike has been renewed from the ground up since it opened nearly 60 years ago.

The two eastbound lanes are being reopened in preparation for Thanksgiving, the most heavily traveled time of year during which nearly 2 million vehicles will drive on the Turnpike in a five-day period. The Turnpike will maintain four lanes of traffic in that area until construction resumes in the spring of 2000.

The one-lane-each-direction pattern was originally set Sept. 8 at milepost 191 to 197 between the Willow Hill Interchange and the Blue Mountain Interchange. In the ensuing 10-week period, Lane Construction Corp. of Meriden, Conn., has totally rebuilt six miles of the eastbound lane at a cost of $10 million. More than 200 workers labored around the clock, seven days a week on this, the first of a four-phase, 13-mile long project. (The cost to reconstruct all 13 miles will be $44.6 million.) Crews put down more than 149,000 tons of bituminous paving in the two-and-a-half-month period. In addition, more than 2.5 miles of storm drainage pipes and 190 storm drainage inlets were placed in the six-mile section.

The total reconstruction project will pick up again in March 2000, when phase two begins on the westbound lanes between milepost 191-197. During this phase — which will end in August 2000 — two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane will remain open. Phase three (milepost 186-191 eastbound lanes) will take place in the fall of 2000; and phase four (milepost 186-191 westbound lanes) will occur in the spring and summer of 2001.

"The reconstruction of the Turnpike is one of the Commission’s most important, long-term initiatives," said Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Executive Director John Durbin. "Over the next decade, we expect to spend more than $1 billion to rebuild the original, 160-mile section of the Turnpike at an approximate cost of $5 million per mile. Compare that to the $450,000 per mile to construct the first roadway, and you can see the tremendous amount of resources it now takes to operate a highway system like ours."

The roadway-improvement initiative will take place in stages over a 16-year period; approximately 10 miles will be rebuilt every year. By 2014, the original part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be entirely renewed. The first three reconstruction projects are currently under way (milepost 76-85; milepost 94-99; and milepost 186-199). Four additional projects are in the design phase. Construction is scheduled to begin on these four in the next 2-3 years.

One noteworthy aspect of the 13-mile long reconstruction project at milepost 186-199 is the reuse of the old concrete roadway. Large slabs of the original highway are being excavated and hauled to a recycling plant near the reconstruction site. The plant crushes the slabs and removes the steel reinforcing rods. The recycled substance — a gray, pebbly material seen in huge heaps near the reconstruction zone — is being hauled back and used as a sub-base beneath the new roadway. More than 48,000 tons of reused roadway was applied as sub-base in the first six-mile project.

When it opened for business on Oct. 1, 1940, the Turnpike linked southcentral and southwestern Pennsylvania with 160 miles of roadway running between Carlisle and Irwin. Although numerous improvements have been made since then, never before has such a major upgrade been undertaken.

"With the first three total-reconstruction projects under way, the Turnpike begins the millennium by making a major capital commitment so that we can continue our tradition of operating a safe, reliable and valued toll-road system," Durbin said.


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