Carl DeFebo Manager, Media and Public Relations

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Carl DeFebo Desk: 717-920-7176 Mobile: 717-645-2265 E-Mail:

December 19, 2005


Turnpike to Convert Gateway Plaza to "One Way" Tolling Scenario

Measure will increase efficiency, allow opening of "Express" E-ZPass.


NORTH BEAVER TWP., LAWRENCE CO., PA. (DEC. 19, 2005) – The Pennsylvania Turnpike today announced it will implement a new fare schedule at the Gateway toll plaza (Exit #2) near Ohio on Jan. 2, 2006.

Known as "one-way tolling," the measure will enable the Turnpike to increase efficiency at this main-line toll plaza by allowing all exiting or westbound motorists to proceed unimpeded without having to stop to pay a toll. Only entering, or eastbound, drivers pay the new fee.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, westbound motorists (exiting Pennsylvania) will pay no toll at Gateway. Eastbound passenger vehicles (entering Pennsylvania) will pay a $3 flat fee (double the existing $1.50 fee) while eastbound commercial vehicles will pay $3 for two axles plus $3 for each additional axle.

"One-way tolling makes traveling the Turnpike more convenient for motorists," said Turnpike Chief Executive Joe Brimmeier. "It will virtually eliminate peak-period congestion at the tollbooths that we typically experience throughout the summer months and during those big holidays."

Brimmeier said a number of toll agencies made similar conversions that are both popular with motorists and fiscally successful. Toll facilities in New York, New Jersey, and throughout New England have recently made the switch.

"With the change, our customers will only have to stop to pay once during a roundtrip through Gateway," said Brimmeier. "The entry toll is doubled for passenger vehicles to enable us to balance out revenues lost on the exit side of the plaza."

The biggest benefit of the conversion, Brimmeier said, will be the introduction of two eastbound Express E-ZPass lanes in August 2007, enabling E-ZPass members to proceed through the plaza at highway speed (55 miles per hour) like the Warrendale express lanes 28 miles to the east. Gateway E-ZPass customers must now slow down to 5 miles per hour.

Construction work – including demolition of the old westbound tollbooths, refurbishment of eastbound tollbooths and reconstruction of the roadway beneath – will begin in March 2006. Until the conversion is completed in August 2007, Brimmeier reminds motorists to slow down, as Gateway will become a work zone to allow the necessary changes to be made.

"If you are leaving Pennsylvania through Gateway, the tollbooths will still be up temporarily – though they'll be unmanned – and everyone, including E-ZPass customers, will have to slow down to 25 miles per hour," Brimmeier explained. Demolition of the westbound tollbooths will begin in March, 2006. The westbound Turnpike will be fully converted to an "open" highway by August, 2006.

Entering the Commonwealth, eastbound motorists will encounter the refurbishment of the six eastbound tollbooths and the construction of two Express E-ZPass lanes starting March 2006 through August 2007.

The project also includes the full-depth reconstruction of more than 1.5 miles of eastbound and westbound Turnpike, along with the installation of a new, permanent 52-inch tall concrete median barrier.

Motorists should be aware of shifting traffic patterns approaching the toll-plaza area. Also be alert for variations in the availability and positions of the eastbound cash and E-ZPass lanes. No traffic stoppages are anticipated throughout the 18-month construction project, though occasional single-lane closures may be necessary during off-peak hours.

Some 22,000 vehicles per day (17 percent of them trucks) enter and exit the Keystone State via Gateway toll plaza, which first opened to traffic Dec. 26, 1951. That means that some 8 million cars and trucks pass through the plaza each year. The plaza was converted to a flat-fee plaza on June 30, 2004, when the Pa. Turnpike/I-79 link opened and the Warrendale toll plaza (#30) became the western terminus of the toll-ticket system.

The general contractor for the $21 million overhaul of the toll plaza and highway rebuild is Joseph B. Fay Co., Russellton, Pa. Designer for the project was DMJM+Harris Inc., Pittsburgh, and design management is being handled by Urban Engineers Inc., Mechanicsburg, Pa.


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