Tuesday, November 27, 2007

pa turnpike

fiery five-vehicle accident has injured several people and closed the Pennsylvania Turnpike in both directions near Philadelphia Tuesday.
State police say the accident involved a tractor-trailer and a pickup truck that burst into flames after the crash.

The wreck occurred about 6:20 a.m. between the Philadelphia and Willow Grove interchanges.

Several people were injured, and the turnpike is likely to stay closed most of the morning as the accident is investigated and the scene is cleared of the vehicles and a fuel spill.

Part of the concrete barrier in the center of the highway was torn out in the crash.

Both eastbound and westbound traffic has been backed up for miles.

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a toll highway system operated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in the state of Pennsylvania, USA. The turnpike system encompasses 532 miles (855 km) in three distinct sections. Its main section, extending from the Ohio state line in the west to the New Jersey state line in the east, stretches 359 miles (578 km). Its Northeast Extension, extending from Plymouth Meeting in the southeast to Wilkes-Barre and Scranton in the northeast, stretches 110 miles (177 km). Its various highway segments in western Pennsylvania cover 62 miles (100 km).

The highway serves most of Pennsylvania's major urban areas, with the main east-west section serving the Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia areas and its Northeastern Extension serving the Allentown/Bethlehem and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre areas.

This 360-mile highway now uses an optional way of paying called E-ZPass. This is a system where tolls are paid electronically through a transmitter attached to the car behind its rear-view mirror.

Major cities
Cities that are officially-designated control cities for signs
Youngstown, Ohio
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 Route numbers
2 Toll system
3 Turnpike history
3.1 First section
3.2 Turnpike expansion
3.2.1 Philadelphia Extension
3.2.2 Western Extension
3.2.3 Delaware River Extension
3.2.4 Northeast Extension
3.3 Other highways
3.3.1 Western expansions
3.3.2 Competing highways
4 2004 Teamsters strike
5 The "Tunnel Highway"
5.1 Modernization
5.2 Lehigh Tunnel
5.3 Allegheny Tunnel modernization
6 Aborted extensions and expansions
7 Current events
7.1 Future Slip Ramp Locations
7.2 Interchange with Interstate 95 project
7.3 Privatization
8 Advertising campaign
9 Radio broadcasts
10 Exit list
11 See also
12 Further reading
13 References
14 External links

[edit] Route numbers
The turnpike is part of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, and is signed with the following route numbers:

Interstate 76. Interstate 76 comprises the majority of the system, starting at the turnpike's western terminus at the Ohio state line. Interstate 70 joins the turnpike at New Stanton, Interchange 75, and runs concurrently with Interstate 76 until leaving the turnpike at Breezewood, Interchange 161 (the only other tolled section of I-70 is on the Kansas Turnpike).
Interstate 276. Interstate 76 leaves the turnpike mainline at Valley Forge/Philadelphia, Interchange 326. At that point, the turnpike becomes Interstate 276 until it meets with a spur of the New Jersey Turnpike at the turnpike's eastern terminus at the Delaware River.
Interstate 476. The Northeast Extension, which meets the turnpike mainline at milepost 333.5 (the interchange is designated as Exit-20, the milepost marker for I-476), is signed as part of Interstate 476. This section was originally signed as Pennsylvania Route 9 before redesignation in the 1990s.
Interstate 95. The turnpike mainline now crosses Interstate 95 but does not have a direct connection to that route. An interchange is currently being constructed in this area. Once the Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project northeast of Philadelphia is completed, the section of the turnpike east of that interchange (now Interstate 276) will be redesignated as Interstate 95.

[edit] Toll system

Turnpike Toll Ticket, Warrendale (Exit 30). Shows toll prices for Class 1 vehicles (two-axle cars without trailers) from April 2006.The majority of the Turnpike is operated as a ticket system toll road, in which a driver receives a paper ticket on entry and pays on exit, with the amount pre-calculated based on entrance and exit points. Most of the system's access points are simple "trumpet" interchanges, with a toll barrier located between the interchange itself and the local connector road. Between 1940 and 1997, the road had three "mainline" barrier plazas, one at Gateway (at the Pennsylvania/Ohio state line), connecting to the Ohio Turnpike, one at the Delaware River Bridge near Bristol Township, where the Turnpike crosses the Delaware River and connects with the New Jersey Turnpike, and one on the Northeastern Extension at Clarks Summit, where it connects with Interstate 81 near Scranton.

In 1992, the new Mid-County exit, connecting Interstate 476 with the Turnpike, opened. It doubles as a mainline and interchange barrier. In 2002, the Gateway barrier was converted to an all-cash plaza (and since January 2, 2006, only eastbound motorists are charged � westbound motorists no longer have to pay a toll similar in nature to the one-way tolls on the Garden State Parkway), and a new mainline barrier, at Warrendale, was added. With the opening of the new Warrendale barrier, the Turnpike between Gateway and Warrendale is toll-free and gives motorists direct access to the James E. Ross Highway, Interstate 79, and two local roads. A similar approach was used between the Wyoming Valley interchange and Clarks Summit on the Northeastern Extension, allowing for the construction of the Keyser Avenue interchange, along with a new coin-drop booth north of the exit. This will also be implemented when the Turnpike/Interstate 95 exit is completed in Bristol Township allowing I-95 to access the Turnpike with a high-speed interchange.

E-ZPass is accepted in designated lanes at all toll plazas. The Virginia Drive exit near Fort Washington is only accessible to E-ZPass customers. Additionally, the proposed Great Valley exit near Malvern, and the Philadelphia Park exit near Bensalem, are expected to also be E-ZPass-only.

[edit] Turnpike history

Pennsylvania Turnpike as it appeared in July 1942When the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened in 1940, it was the first long-distance rural highway in the United States and was popularly known as the "tunnel highway" because of the seven mountain tunnels along its route.

[edit] First section
The turnpike was partially constructed on an unused railroad grade constructed for the aborted South Pennsylvania Railroad project, and six of its seven original tunnels (all tunnels with the exception of the Allegheny Mountain tunnel) were first bored for that railroad.

Proposals to use the grade and tunnels for a toll road were made starting in late 1934. The road would bypass the steep grades on Pennsylvania's existing major east-west highways � US 22 (William Penn Highway) and US 30 (Lincoln Highway) � and offer a high-speed four lane route free of cross traffic. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was created by law on May 21, 1937, and construction began October 27, 1938 with the removal of water from the unfinished tunnels.

In October 1, 1940 the first section of Turnpike opened, running from US 11 near Carlisle (southwest of Harrisburg) west to US 30 at Irwin (east of Pittsburgh). As built, the majority of the road was four lanes, but it narrowed to one lane in each direction for the seven tunnels (the South Pennsylvania had begun work on nine, but two � the Quemahoning Tunnel and Negro Mountain Tunnel � were bypassed by the Turnpike). Despite the existence of the railroad right-of-way, much of the new Turnpike was built on a new, straighter alignment, as engineering had progressed much since the days of the railroad.

Unlike earlier U.S. highways, mostly in the New York City area, which were restricted to cars, the Turnpike allowed all traffic. Like the German Autobahn on which it was loosely based, there was no enforced speed limit on most of the road--some cars could travel at 100 mph (160 km/h) and traverse the entire 160 mile (256 km) original segment in less than two hours. The phenomenon of highway hypnosis began to afflict motorists on some of the long, straight segments--especially on the 21 mile (34 km) section of Turnpike between the Blue Mountain Tunnel and the eastern terminus at Carlisle.

[edit] Turnpike expansion
With the success of the original 160 mile (256 km) segment, the turnpike commission planned to expand the original Turnpike to a cross-state route, connecting Philadelphia with Pittsburgh with a high-speed route. This was shelved with the onset of World War II, but with the war's end, the turnpike commission resumed construction.

[edit] Philadelphia Extension
The Philadelphia Extension took the Turnpike east to King of Prussia near Philadelphia and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The first phase of that expansion made the highway slightly longer, stretching it to US 15 near Harrisburg. That section opened on February 1, and the rest of the expansion, east to King of Prussia, opened on November 20, 1950. At that time the old mainline toll booth and interchange at Carlisle was closed, and the Middlesex interchange, at the old east end at US 11, was reconfigured and renamed as the Carlisle interchange. The original eastern end of the Philadelphia Extension ended at what is now the present-day interchange with Interstate 76 and U.S. Highway 202.

[edit] Western Extension
The first piece of the Western Extension, from Irwin to US 22 east of Pittsburgh, opened August 7, 1951. The remainder opened to traffic on December 26, 1951, taking the highway west almost to the Ohio state line. Traffic was diverted onto the two-lane Burkey Road just west of the western barrier toll for almost three years until a connection with the Ohio Turnpike connection opened. The interchange with Pennsylvania Route 18 at Homewood was not completed until March 1, 1952. The turnpike connected with Youngstown, Ohio, after the first section of the Ohio Turnpike opened on December 1, 1954.

[edit] Delaware River Extension
The Delaware River Extension opened on August 23, 1954 to Pennsylvania Route 611 at Willow Grove, and the intermediate Fort Washington interchange with PA 309 opening September 20. Extensions opened October 27 to US 1 near Trevose and November 17 to US 13 near Bristol Township. The final piece opened on May 23, 1956 with the completion of the Delaware River-Turnpike Toll Bridge, which connected to a short spur of the New Jersey Turnpike.

[edit] Northeast Extension
Main article: Interstate 476
The Northeast Extension, from the Mid-County Interchange northwest of Philadelphia north to Interstate 81 near Scranton, opened in stages from November 23, 1955 to November 7, 1957. This was the last segment of the Turnpike system to be built until the late 1980s, and formerly signed as PA 9. It was later made part of I-476 (continuting that route from the Chester-to-Plymouth Meeting freeway), because no more 2-digit odd Interstate numbers were available in that part of the U.S.

[edit] Other highways
Main article: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

[edit] Western expansions
Western extensions, that mostly serve the Pittsburgh Area were constructed from the 1990s until the present. The James E. Ross Highway and the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass were completed by 1994, and the James J. Manderino Highway, a West Virginia-to-Pittsburgh route, (Mon/Fayette Expressway) is approximately 50% completed with the last major link to Pittsburgh under design. The first section of the Pittsburgh Southern Beltway (from the Mon/Fayette Expressway to the Pittsburgh International Airport) has been completed and is open to traffic. Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for the two remaining sections are in preparation

[edit] Competing highways
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission originally proposed a statewide system of additional toll highways, but these plans were rendered unnecessary with the inception of the U.S. Interstate Highway system in 1954. A toll-free east-west competitor � Interstate 80 � opened on August 29, 1970 across northern Pennsylvania, forming a route that was more direct for New York-Chicago traffic. In 2007, however, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania leased Interstate 80 to the Turnpike Commission. Under this lease agreement, this will allow the Turnpike Commission to convert Interstate 80 to a toll highway.[2][3]

[edit] 2004 Teamsters strike
On November 24, 2004, two thousand Teamsters Union employees of the Pennsylvania Turnpike went on strike, after contract negotiations failed. This was the day before Thanksgiving, usually one of the busiest traffic days in the United States. To keep the turnpike open, tolls were waived for the remainder of the day.[4] Starting on November 25, flat-rate passenger tolls of $2 and commercial tolls of $15 were collected from cash customers on the ticketed system by management staff of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. E-ZPass customers were charged the lesser of the actual toll or the same flat rates.[5] This represented a substantial discount for many travelers, who would normally have to pay $19.75 to travel along the full length of the main east-west route in a passenger car, and between $29 and $794, depending on vehicle weight class, to cross the state in a commercial vehicle.[6] The strike only lasted seven days, with an agreement reached on November 30. Normal toll collection resumed December 1.[7]

[edit] The "Tunnel Highway"

The west portal of the Blue Mountain Tunnel's eastbound tube.After it opened as the nation's first superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was popularly known as the "Tunnel Highway." Postcards and other souvenirs promoted this name because, immediately after opening, the original stretch of the turnpike sported seven tunnels through Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains.[8] These tunnels, in order of east to west, bored through Blue Mountain, Kittattiny Mountain, Tuscarora Mountain, Sideling Hill, Ray's Hill, Allegheny Mountain, and Laurel Hill.

[edit] Modernization
While the highway was built as a four-lane, limited-access highway, the seven tunnels each held only two travel lanes. Traffic was squeezed from four lanes to two at each tunnel portal, and traffic proceeded through each tunnel without being divided from oncoming traffic. By the 1960s, this situation was creating long delays at each tunnel bottleneck. To alleviate this overcrowding, the turnpike commission studied ways to either expand or bypass each tunnel.

The result of this project was the "twinning" (construction of a second, parallel, two-lane tunnel) of four tunnels, and the outright bypass and closure of the other three. The Blue, Kittattiny, Tuscarora, and Allegheny Mountain Tunnels were expanded through the construction of new tunnels identical to the original tunnels in design, construction methods (dynamite and wooden supports), and length. After the second tunnels were completed at each location, the original tunnels were temporarily closed for rehabilitations that included upgrades in forced air ventliation and lighting systems.

The Sideling Hill, Rays Hill, and Laurel Hill tunnels were closed and bypassed. The adjacent Sideling Hill and Rays Hill tunnels were replaced with one stretch of highway that climbed over those mountains, while the Laurel Hill Tunnel was bypassed with a long rock cut through the mountain. The three bypassed tunnels are still in existence.

The 13-mile stretch that contained the Sideling Hill and Rays Hill Tunnels are now part of a popular tourist attraction known as the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, which most of it was sold to Southern Alleghenies Conservancy in 2001. The Laurel Hill stretch, which is much shorter at about 2 miles, is still owned by the PTC and trespassing is prohibited.

[edit] Lehigh Tunnel
The Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike contains the Lehigh Tunnel, a 4,461-foot tunnel through Blue Mountain. The tunnel was named "Lehigh Tunnel" so as not to cause confusion with the existing Blue Mountain tunnel on the mainline. The tunnel was originally to be named for Turnpike Commission chairman Thomas J. Evans, but this was changed due to his July 25, 1967 conviction for conspiracy to defraud the Turnpike Commission of $19 million.[9]

The Lehigh Tunnel was originally a two-lane tunnel, in the manner of the highway's original seven tunnels, until it was "twinned" in the early 1990s. The new Lehigh Tunnel is the only tunnel built by the Turnpike Commission using the New Austrian Tunnelling method. With this method, tunnels are built using a special machine resembling a large electric razor blade, guided by lasers. The tunneled area is reinforced with shotcrete, a slurry mixture, as it is bored, eliminating the need for wooden supports. Because of the new construction, the new tube, which is round, contrasts sharply with the original rectangular tube, which was carved by the older dyamite blasting method.

[edit] Allegheny Tunnel modernization

West portal, Allegheny Mountain TunnelThe Allegheny Mountain Tunnel, currently the longest tunnel complex on the entire Turnpike system (only the bypassed Sideling Hill Tunnel was longer), and the only one of the original seven tunnels not to have been originally bored for the aborted Southeast Pennsylvania Railroad project, is currently the most problematic tunnel for the turnpike. In 1996, the turnpike commission began a study on how to address this tunnel, which was suffering from a low traffic capacity and deterioration. The study recommended that a bypass (known as the "Brown Cut") be blasted through the adjacent mountain, but a high pricetag and opposition from landowners and environmental groups shelved this project. The commission is currently realigning the approach roads to the tunnel while examining more acceptable ways to address the capacity and age-related issues of the tunnels.

[edit] Aborted extensions and expansions
Soon after the mainline was built, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission proposed a number of extensions as part of a 1,000 mile (1,600 km) Turnpike network. These plans were dropped in the mid-1950s in favor of the Interstate Highway System. The proposed network included the following:

Chester Extension--now Interstate 476 between Chester and the Northeast Extension
Northwest Extension--now Interstate 79, this would connect with the New York State Thruway near Erie.
Southwest Extension--now Interstate 79, this would be a continuation of the Northwest Extension to West Virginia.
Gettysburg Extension--now the U.S. Route 15 Gettysburg Bypass
Northeastern Extension (Clarks Summit to New York State Line)--now Interstate 81. This would also connect with the New York State Thruway in Rochester.
Philadelphia Loop Connection--now Interstate 95 between Interstate 76 at the Walt Whitman Bridge and Interstate 276
Sharon Lateral Connection--now Interstate 80
Although the extensions were dropped, the commission also looked into a major expansion project in the early 1970s in which the east-west mainline would be expanded into a "dual-dual" eight-lane highway similar to that of the New Jersey Turnpike between Jamesburg and Newark. With the dual-dual configuration, the inner two lanes would be car-only lanes while the outer lanes would be for trucks, buses, and trailers.

The dual-dual would have required major realignments, similar to that of the Sideling Hill relocation, but most of the original infrastructure would have remained intact in most places. This plan was dropped by 1976, but since 1980, most of the original plan was implemented on a smaller scale. Truck climbing lanes were built on the Allegheny Ridge and Sideling Hill, and the roadway was expanded to six lanes between the Norristown and Philadelphia exits. The six-lane configuration was planned or in the process of being constructed between the proposed Great Valley Slip Ramp and Norristown, between Philadelphia and the New Jersey Turnpike, and on the Northeast Extension between Mid-County and Lansdale.

[edit] Current events
Today, the Turnpike is controlled by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, handles over 172 million vehicles per year, and employs nearly 2,200 people.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is currently reconfiguring and expanding the Turnpike to meet modern traffic needs. Parts of the original Irwin-Carlisle section are being rebuilt with new roadbeds (using the original concrete and later macadam paving), and long-duration "Superpave" macadam asphalt (similar to a process used on I-95 in Delaware between U.S. Highway 202 and the Pennsylvania State Line in 2000), new interchanges, and even overpasses, the latter two being done well in advance of any major upgrade projects..

Between Valley Forge and the Northeast Extension, the highway is being expanded from four lanes to six, and with the completion of the entire I-95/Turnpike exit (along with the building of the paralleling Turnpike Connector Bridge), the entire Delaware River Extension will have six lanes.

Other projects include building unmanned "Slip Ramps" between existing interchanges. These have been built for E-Z Pass tagholders only,[10] near Fort Washington (Virginia Drive), with another planned for the Great Valley Corporate Center near Malvern. A similar six-lane expansion has also been planned for the Northeast Extension between its junction in Norristown to Lansdale, and on the mainline turnpike between Valley Forge and the Downingtown interchange, the westernmost of the Turnpike's Philadelphia suburban interchanges.

On Memorial Day Weekend, 2005, the Pennsylvania Turnpike system became the first highway system in Pennsylvania to have a 65 mph speed limit on the entire length (except for the tunnels themselves, and the winding 5.5-mile (9 km) eastern approach to the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel) of both the mainline turnpike and the Northeast Extension. This is the first time since the mandated 55 mph (88 km/h) speed limit was implemented in 1974 that a motorist can cross the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at 65 mph (105 km/h) without having to travel at lower speeds for extended periods.

[edit] Future Slip Ramp Locations
PA Route 29 at about milemarker 319 (East Whiteland) [11]
Lafayette Street & U.S. 202 at about milemarker 331 (Bridgeport/Norristown) [12]
PA Route 132 & Street Road at about milemarker 352 (Philadelphia Racetrack) [13]
The turnpike commission is also considering slip ramps near the New Stanton area as a part of the ongoing total reconstruction process going on between MP67 (IRWIN) and MP75 (New Stanton)[1]

[edit] Interchange with Interstate 95 project
Main article: Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project
Interstate 95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike now cross each other without an interchange. This is related to (but not because of) a gap in Interstate 95 in New Jersey, where local opposition groups managed to stop construction of the Somerset Freeway through the area. Heading northbound from Pennsylvania into Ewing Township (by Trenton, New Jersey), Interstate 95 abruptly ends at its intersection with U.S. Route 1. From there, the highway is then signed as Interstate 295, and turns south. To continue on Interstate 95 northbound, one must travel south on Interstate 295 then east on Interstate 195 (or use a non-freeway section of US 1) in order to reach the northern section of the New Jersey Turnpike, which is signed as Interstate 95.

A project [2] is currently planned to install a high speed interchange between the two highways. In addition to the new interchange, the PTC will expand the existing four-lane road to six lanes east of the Philadelphia interchange (U.S. Route 1), build a new facility at milepost 353 to collect toll tickets, and convert the present Delaware River Bridge toll barrier, which currently collects tickets, to a westbound-only exact-change and high-speed E-ZPass facility. In addition, both the PTC and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority will build a twin parallel bridge over the Delaware River, with the NJTPA itself expanding the mainline Turnpike itself from its current six lanes to a dual-dual configuration like that found north of Jamesburg. This project will complete I-95 from Miami, Florida to Houlton, Maine. Construction is expected to start in early 2008 and will cost approximately $500 million.

[edit] Privatization
In November 2006, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel separately raised the idea of a long-term lease of the turnpike to a private group as a means of raising money to improve other infrastructure within the state, following examples of similar toll road lease arrangements in Illinois, Indiana, Texas, and Virginia. Although no plans are immediately in place, Rendell and Perzel have speculated that a lease of the system could bring anywhere from $2.5 to $30 billion to the state. [3]

This idea faced criticism from the legislature, and instead a plan was created to lease Interstate 80 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and place tolls on it to fund transportation. However, this plan faced opposition from many people in Northern Pennsylvania who feared tolls on I-80 would hurt the economy of the region, which led Rendell to revive the plan of leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike. In October 2007, 34 companies submitted 14 proposals to leasing the turnpike.[14]

[edit] Advertising campaign
"Peace, Love and the Pennsylvania Turnpike" was the slogan used during an advertising campaign to promote courtesy and safe driving. Signs were located along the Pennsylvania Turnpike either on billboards or in wall advertisements in service plazas. They consisted of a psychedelic background with text, usually an amusing take on a hippie phrase, written in a 1960s typeface. At the bottom they had the keystone insignia of the PTC and the slogan "Peace, Love and the Pennsylvania Turnpike".


Good vibrations, no citations
Spread the love, let someone merge
You can beat a mile a minute, but there might not be a future in it.
Rome was not built in a day, either.


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