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The equipment, buildings and roadway has changed over the past 80 years, but the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s dedication to our customers has remained. See now vs. then throughout our history.

Bridges

Crossing over rivers, roads, railroad tracks and more, the many bridges on the PA Turnpike are engineering marvels that keep our highway connected. From concrete segmental to steel girders, the 1160 bridges across the system are invaluable structures tasked with carrying the weight of thousands of vehicles over many years through all weather conditions.

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Construction

Over the years, many types of equipment have been used to move earth, debris, snow or construction materials. Front end loaders shown here have helped construction projects be turned from design on paper to physical roadway improvements.

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Dedication Plaque

Dedications, groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremonies have always been an important part of the turnpike’s history. Shown here is the original plaque back in 1941 and how it looks today restored.

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Interchanges

Originally called ticket offices, 11 interchanges opened with the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Oct. 1, 1940. As the highway grew so did it exits and entries. Today, nearly 70 interchanges have brought an economic boom to many small towns and cities in Pennsylvania as motorists have gained easier access to the Turnpike.

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Line Painting

Line painting was done by hand in earlier times. Today road marking and striping continue to serve a very important role in traffic flows and road designations. Paint is combined with anti-skid additives to enhance safety and visibility for motorists.

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Operations Center

Today, a modern state-of-the-art Operations Center allows staff to monitor video streams, travel data and incident reports to aid in conducting traffic management for the entire 552-mile PA Turnpike system. In the past, our dispatchers used telephone and radio communication for a 160-mile roadway.

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Paving

While techniques and materials used to construct the PA Turnpike have varied since 1940, the skill, strength and determination to get the job done has not. The historic picture shows how concrete was spread on the original Turnpike in 1940 vs. pouring concrete on a bridge deck in 2014.

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Scenic Views

The Turnpike is known for its views of the commonwealth across its entire system. From the striking view labeled “Pyramid Point,” which is a memorable sight during all seasons and can be found when traveling westbound just east of Fort Littleton, PA. To scenic landscapes seen from overhead bridges, which will always be unique to PA Turnpike drivers creating great memories on nostalgic road trips.

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Service Plazas

The stone farmhouses that dot the adjoining countryside inspired the design of the Turnpike’s 11 original service plazas.

While travelers’ needs have changed over the years, Turnpike service plazas have adapted to fit those needs and wants. Recently, nearly all plazas have been rebuilt and modernized to meet changing demands. The 17 new plazas accommodate heavier traffic with more food options and brighter, more spacious seating areas and restrooms.

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Snow Removal

It takes the skills and talents of many employees to keep customers safe and traffic moving, especially in the worst conditions. When the Turnpike opened crews would manually shovel antiskid from the back of trucks. Today’s snow removal involves plow trains that can clear lanes of highway quickly and safely.

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St. Johns Church

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church located on the hillside along the Turnpike at milepost 129 in New Baltimore, PA, was one of the most unique features along the Turnpike. Starting in the 1950’s the church became known as “The Church of the Turnpike”, motorists could pull over in the eastbound wide area and take the concrete steps up to the church and attend a service.

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Tunnels

The idea for an all-weather highway through Pennsylvania’s mountains came from a long-abandoned railroad. While the ill-fated South Penn never carried a single boxcar or passenger, seven of its nine partially excavated tunnels became part of the PA Turnpike.

Due to the increases in traffic over the years, three tunnels were bypassed while the five remaining have been expanded from single lanes in each direction, to two tubes and added lanes.

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Valley Forge Aerial

When it opened, the PA Turnpike paved the way for our nation’s Interstate Highway System. The Turnpike established the national standard for superhighway design and construction more than 16 years before the first U.S. interstate highway.

When constructed, towns and cities grew around the Turnpike creating economic development in southern Pennsylvania.

Today, it continues its legacy of innovation in the transportation industry with a modern-day mission to operate a safe, reliable, customer-valued toll road system.

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Work Zone Safety

From guidance to construction to speed limits, signs signify the “how-to” of the highway. Like other components of the toll road, the signs seen along the PA Turnpike have changed over time. But, creating awareness and caution of always driving safely has remained.

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