The Road Ahead

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Leslie S. Richards


By just about any measure, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is a sprawling enterprise that moves an average of 550,000 vehicles a day and generates more than $1 billion in revenue. This year alone, we will invest nearly $500 million in construction projects on our system while providing $450 million in funds for transit systems statewide.

Despite the many moving parts, every decision we make starts and ends with one overarching priority – ensuring the safety of our employees and our customers. This mandate was made even more compelling by the tragic death of Robert Gensimore, a PennDOT foreman who was killed earlier this year while setting up flares to warn motorists about an accident on Interstate 99 near Altoona.

Robert, who was 45, worked for PennDOT but just as easily could have been a Turnpike worker. He could have been one of the hundreds of responders who answer the call when there are crashes on our system. Robert was, in fact, a volunteer firefighter.

I am confident that the Turnpike and PennDOT are doing everything possible to protect our employees. But we need your help. This edition of The Road Ahead comes as the winter season is nearing an end and our construction season kicks into gear. That means more workers will be in harm’s way. Please, slow down, put your phone down and heed all construction-zone signs. Slow down and move over when you see an accident and follow the guidance of State Police and other responders.

We are sharing updates on three major construction projects in this edition. The Commission recently started a $225 million reconstruction and widening project of seven miles of the Northeastern Extension. The Commission has also announced the selection of a construction manager for the Mon/Fayette Expressway project near Pittsburgh. In addition, the Turnpike’s I-95 connector in Bucks County will, after much anticipation, become a reality this year.

In our efforts to improve customer service, I am happy to share an important update on the Turnpike’s next steps to implement cashless tolling and some good news for E-ZPass customers who rely on the Waze app. The app has been updated to make sure E-ZPass customers get suitable directions to E-ZPass-Only interchanges and express lanes. Finally, we have a report on our connected-truck pilot program that provides in-cab safety alerts to commercial drivers. These alerts have helped reduce truck speeds on curves and ramps across our system — and have made all travelers safer.

Thank you for your time and, please, drive safely.