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 a large-scale fiber optic broadband network 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 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 communications and connectivity for land mobile radio, internet, voice, and data between its buildings, tolling points and roadside devices. The Commission has over 563 miles of roadway and nearly 700 sites requiring communications including 4 office buildings, 23 maintenance sheds, 17 service plazas, 68 tolling locations, 40 microwave towers, 5 tunnels, and over 504 individual roadside equipment locations. Since 2003, the communications needs have increased dramatically with a 14% average annual bandwidth growth, 24% average annual increase in the number of devices, as well as a 212% average annual increase in storage demands. The current system of utilizing leased lines and microwave towers has limited capacity due to radio spectrum availability and geographic challenges given the proximity between existing infrastructure and the ever-increasing roadside equipment sites. A state-of-the-art, fiber optic communications network is needed to accommodate future needs resulting from all-electronic tolling, intelligent transportation system device growth, and connected and automated vehicles.

Bridging the Digital Divide

The PA Turnpike traverses rural areas that are significantly underserved with broadband infrastructure. Historically, telecommunications companies have not extended broadband to these areas because it was not profitable based on the limited number of customers and the distance from existing infrastructure in more densely populated areas. Underserved areas also include customers with only one choice for high-speed internet, which results in a lack of competition and cost-prohibitive rates. Residents and businesses in these areas are at a disadvantage compared to those who have multiple choices for high-speed internet. This phenomenon is known as the “digital divide” which the PTC fiber optic network will help address by extending fiber optic cable through rural areas which have been previously overlooked. A private sector partner will identify such opportunities to extend commercial fiber optic infrastructure beyond the Turnpike’s right of way to serve nearby businesses and residents.


Fiber Optic Broadband Network Under Construction

In April 2021, the PTC began construction of the 220-mile fiber optic project extending along the eastern part of the mainline PA Turnpike from the Harrisburg East Interchange to the Delaware River Bridge (I-76, I-276, & I-95) and the entire Northeast Extension (I-476) from Plymouth Meeting to Clarks Summit. Known collectively as the Eastern Network, the project is planned for completion by the fall of 2022.

PA Turnpike Commission’s Operations, Maintenance, & Commercialization Partners

The PTC initiated a separate competitive procurement for Fiber Operations, Maintenance, and Commercialization (FOMC) services for a 25-year term, which was awarded to Plenary Broadband Infrastructure, LLC (PBI). A notice to proceed was issued to PBI on February 24, 2021.

The PTC FOMC project is the first public-private partnership revenue-risk broadband project in North America. The FOMC contract includes a commercial net revenue share between the PTC and PBI, which is also subject to a minimum revenue guarantee. The contract enables PBI to provide lit fiber services, lease dark fiber, market empty ducts, and install new cell towers within the PTC’s right of way subject to PTC approval on a case-by-case basis. PBI is also responsible for operations and maintenance services for PTC fiber optic infrastructure, which include repairs, mark-out services, fiber construction, and fiber management system maintenance.

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

Western Expansion of Fiber Optic Network to be Bid in 2022

[Notice to Potential Bidders]

In the spring and summer of 2022, the PTC is planning to bid three contracts to extend its fiber optic network west of Harrisburg to the Ohio border. The 325-mile Western Network will include the mainline PA Turnpike from the Harrisburg East Interchange to the Ohio border (I-76), Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass (PA 66), Beaver Valley Expressway (I-376), and the Mon-Fayette Expressway (PA 43).

A summary of the planned Western Network contracts and bidding requirements is provided below. This information is tentative and is provided for informational purposes only.

PTC Turnpike Fiber Optic Network

Geographic Scope of Contracts for Western Fiber Optic Network

  • Contract #3: Harrisburg East Interchange to Western Regional Office (I-76)
  • Contract #4:
    • Western Regional Office to Ohio Border (I-76)
    • Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass (PA 66)
    • Beaver Valley Expressway (I-376)
  • Contract #5: Mon-Fayette Expressway (PA 43)

Estimated Schedule and Quantities for Western Fiber Optic Network

Estimated Schedule and Quantities for Western Fiber Optic Network table

Bidding Prerequisites for Western Fiber Optic Network

  • Proposal and plans will be published electronically on the PA Turnpike's Electronic Bidding System (EBS) site:
  • All project team members must be prequalified with PennDOT and an EBS Business Partner with the PA Turnpike before submitting a bid:
  • Diverse Business (DB) Participation will be addressed in the bid documents
  • Demonstration of similar telecommunication infrastructure and heavy highway experience on state highway or interstate roadways will be required
  • Electronic bid bond of 5% is required with bid submission

Design/Build Work Items for Western Fiber Optic Network

Work items include, but are not limited to:

  • Design of fiber optic network to include backbone and distribution fiber optic cable to various demarcation sites and into buildings.
  • Design, procure, and install required fiber optic cable, conduit, crossings, vaults, splice, and test fiber optic cable as required.
  • Design, procure, and construct conduit and cable attachments to structures and in tunnels.
  • Obtain all applicable permits (including PA Chapters 102 & 105, Railroad, and L&I)
  • Coordinate with PA Turnpike construction projects, Fiber Commercialization vendor, agency and utility coordination as required.
  • Maintenance and Protection of Traffic
  • Erosion and Sedimentation Control

Fiber and Conduit Details for Western Fiber Optic Network

The fiber and conduit infrastructure includes a bundled 8-way micro-duct with three 288-count fiber optic cables:

  • Two 288-count fiber optic cables and two empty micro-ducts for PTC use
  • One 288-count fiber optic cable and three empty micro-ducts for the commercialization

3D Render Fiber Optics Cross Section
Wheel of Fiber Optics Cable

Micro-Trench Details for Western Fiber Optic Network

  • Micro-trench to be installed in shoulder, five feet from white line
  • Depth of trench is 16 inches with 13 inches of cover

Next Steps for Western Fiber Optic Network

  • Watch for contracts to be advertised in EBS (
  • Questions can be submitted in EBS after advertisement
  • Pre-Bid meetings are anticipated
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.