Media & Public Relations

Contact: Tom Fox
Phone: 724.755.5260
June 22, 2012
Pa. Turnpike Breaks Ground for Somerset Interchange Safety Improvements

Traffic flow at the interchange will be maintained throughout the yearlong construction.
Today, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission broke ground on a $4.5 million project to improve traffic flow and safety at the intersection just outside the Somerset Interchange (Exit 110) in Somerset Township. The project involves relocating the existing intersection — which now crosses right behind the toll plaza — about 140 feet to the south and constructing a new, signalized intersection along with a half mile of new roadway to access local roads and businesses.
“By moving the intersection, adding a traffic signal and building two new access roads, we’re considerably enhancing safety and traffic flow for local motorists as well as those headed to and from the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” said Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig R. Shuey. “Since almost half of the Turnpike customers at the Somerset Interchange use E-ZPass, fewer drivers today stop to pay tolls — making it even more of a challenge for local travelers trying to cross behind the tollbooths.”
Nearly 2.1 million vehicles got on and off the Turnpike (Interstate 70/76) at Somerset last year, or about 5,700 cars and trucks a day; of that, 47 percent used E-ZPass to pay and 76 percent were passenger (non-commercial) vehicles.
The focus of the project is to eliminate what’s called a “five-points” intersection where traffic on three local roads — Laurel Crest Road, Waterworks Road and Gateway Road — intersects with two directions of traffic (northbound and southbound) on the Turnpike Access Road. The new intersection will eliminate the need for local motorists to cross behind the toll plaza. The two new access roads being built, to be named Tollgate Road and Marsh Road, will carry traffic from the new intersection to the local roads and nearby businesses, including several hotels and restaurants.
In addition to the new intersection, traffic signal and access roads, the project also includes construction of a new single-span concrete bridge on Marsh Road (which will link to Waterworks Road behind McDonald’s). The Turnpike Access Road between Somerset Interchange and State Route 601 will be reconstructed as well. Normal traffic flow through the interchange will be maintained throughout the project and access to local businesses will continue.
The project will be constructed in seven stages, the first of which began in April with concrete pavement work in the vicinity of the new signal. Utility relocation work is also occurring through the project area. New drainage, guide rail, curbs and concrete barriers will be added to improve roadway conditions and safety. The project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2013.
The groundbreaking follows a six year, public-involvement process initiated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 2005 to encourage input in the project design from Somerset County, Somerset Township and Somerset Borough as well as the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and impacted businesses.
“Our design team had a number of meetings with the stakeholders on this project, and we were able to incorporate much of that feedback into the final design,” Shuey said. “I’d like to personally thank all of those who took part in this important process. The result, to be realized in about a year, will be that much better thanks to their ideas and input.”
Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. Inc. of Latrobe, Pa. is designer for the project. New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc. of New Enterprise, Pa. is construction contractor and McTish, Kunkle & Associates of Pittsburgh is construction manager for the undertaking.
Upon completion of the improvements, Somerset Borough and Township will assume ownership and maintenance responsibility for the newly built access roads.