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PTC Fiber Project

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“The PA Turnpike faces the ‘perfect storm’ caused by the convergence of aging communications infrastructure, rapid technology growth, and emerging transportation technologies. With more than 10,000 Internet of Things (IoT) devices, it is not cost effective for us to rely on a network of microwave, leased lines and cellular routers. Broadband is the only logical solution.”

– Robert Taylor, PA Turnpike Commission Chief Technology Officer

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TECHNOLOGICAL BENEFIT FOR OUR CUSTOMERS AND THE COMMUNITY

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

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 Turnpike – which consists of four office buildings; 23 maintenance sheds; 17 service plazas; 68 tolling locations; 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 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 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.

Network map photo

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 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 Pennsylvania 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 www.tilsoninfrastructure.com.

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 Network map photo

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