PA Turnpike Commission Fiber Optic Network

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Fiber Optic Network Will Boost Connectivity, Support Safety, and Mobility Along our Roadway

PTC Fiber Optic Graphic

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is in the midst of constructing large-scale fiber optic broadband network in the eastern part of the state to enhance its communications capacity. This broadband network will increase bandwidth and boost connectivity between the PTC’s administrative buildings and support automated tolling capabilities, among other advanced telecommunications applications for improved safety and mobility.

The 220-mile fiber optic network project will also assist in extending broadband to underserved areas and will help to generate non-toll revenue through a unique partnership with the private sector.

The Need for a Fiber Optic Broadband Network

The PTC has a challenging task of providing land mobile radio communications and connectivity for Internet, voice and tolling data between its buildings and Tolling Points. These areas include more than 552 miles of roadway and more than 120 facilities along the PA Turnpike – which consists of four office buildings; 23 maintenance sheds; 17 service plazas; 68 Toll Points; more than 40 microwave towers; and five tunnels.

Since 2003, the communications needs have increased dramatically with a 14% average annual bandwidth growth; 24% average annual increase in the number of devices; and a 212% average annual increase in storage demands.

The current broadband system of utilizing leased lines and microwave antennas and towers has proven to be problematic to accommodate future needs, as well as geographic limitations and end of life structural and technology issues.

A state-of-the-art, fiber optic communications network is needed to accommodate future needs resulting from All-Electronic Tolling (AET), Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) device growth, and infrastructure to support connected and automated vehicles.

Bridging the Digital Divide

The PA Turnpike crosses through rural areas that are significantly underserved with broadband infrastructure. Historically, broadband providers have not extended broadband to these communities because it was not profitable based on the limited number of customers and the distance from existing infrastructure in more densely populated areas.

Other underserved areas include those who have only one choice for high-speed internet and the lack of competition results in excessive rates that can be cost-prohibitive for rural residents.

Residents and businesses in these areas are at a disadvantage compared to those with multiple choices for high-speed internet. This phenomenon is known as the “digital divide,” which the PA Turnpike fiber optic project will help address by extending fiber optic cable deep into rural areas which have been previously passed over.

Fiber Optic Broadband Network Under Construction

In April 2021, the PTC began construction of the 220-mile fiber optic project along the eastern part of the mainline PA Turnpike. From the Harrisburg East Interchange (I-76 and I-276) to the Delaware River Bridge (I-95), and the entire Northeastern Extension (I-476) starting from the Mid-County Interchange to the Clarks Summit Interchange is collectively known as the PTC’s Eastern Network.

The PTC is constructing the project using two Design-Build (DB) procurements. As shown on the map below, Contract 1 covers the east-west Mainline PA Turnpike and Contract 2 covers the Northeastern Extension project. Construction is scheduled for completion in December 2021. The project includes two 288-count fiber optic cables and two empty ducts for the PTC and one 288-count fiber optic cable and three empty ducts for commercialization.

The PTC is considering plans to extend the fiber network westward towards Pittsburgh and the Ohio border within the next five years.

PTC Fiber Map Contracts

Our Partners

Black & Veatch, a market-leading designer and builder of high-speed fiber optic networks was awarded two contracts to develop the first and second phases of the PA Turnpike’s network upgrade. Black & Veatch will design and install the new fiber optic network along more than 200 miles of the PA Turnpike. For more information about Black & Veatch visit www.bv.com.

Plenary Broadband Infrastructure, LLC (PBI) earned an exclusive agreement with the PTC to assume operations and maintenance responsibility of the fiber optic network along the PA Turnpike.

PBI and Tilson Infrastructure will be responsible for commercializing additional fiber capacity along the route and develop network infrastructure that will provide increased connectivity for the region. For more information about Tilson Infrastructure visit  Tilson Infrastructure.

Tilson Technology Management, Inc. is the O&M provider that will also handle part of the operational contract. For more information about Tilson visit www.tilsontech.com.

For more details regarding the Fiber Optic Broadband Network please view the following presentation:  Constructing the PA Turnpike’s Fiber Optic Network

PA Turnpike System map

Photo Gallery

Machinery installing fiber optic broadband network

The fiber optic broadband network project includes conduit installation on bridges and wood poles along the eastern part of the PA Turnpike. Some fibers are being installed aerially.

Conduit installation for fiber optic network

The fiber optic broadband network project includes conduit installation on bridges and wood poles along the eastern part of the PA Turnpike. Some fibers are being installed aerially.

Conduit being installed

A conduit is being installed on the outside parapets of a mainline bridges.

Equipment to install conduit along bridge

Equipment that is used to install the conduits along the roadway. Through the roadway portions of the PA Turnpike, the fiber will be installed in the shoulder of the PA Turnpike in micro-ducts installed by a micro-trenching process.