Even though the $151-million project is supposed to alleviate traffic in the long run by expanding the turnpike from two lanes in each direction to three lanes each way, in the meantime it could cause traffic troubles for commuters.
The improvement project’s target area is the six-mile stretch of road from Mid-County to Lansdale.
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Starting Monday night at 8 the northbound right lane of the Northeast Extension will be closed overnight until 6 a.m. Tuesday. Expect the same closure Tuesday to Thursday night and Friday night starting at 10 p.m. and going until 7 a.m. Saturday.
Of course all the construction is weather permitting.
The right lane closures are also only the beginning. The expansion project is set to last for three years.
During the next month or so expect the right lane closure so that crews can install temporary barriers. After that there will be different phases of the construction project that should cause some lane restrictions, variable signage, speed restrictions and increased fines, said officials.
Despite the travel headaches, Turnpike officials feel the construction should be a long-term benefit to drivers.
"This stretch of I-476 between Mid-County and the Lansdale Interchange is the busiest four-lane section of highway across the entire Turnpike system, with average traffic exceeding 65,500 vehicles per day," Turnpike COO Craig Shuey said. "What's more, traffic volumes here are expected to surpass 100,000 vehicles per day by the year 2030, so this improvement project is vitally needed to safely accommodate rising traffic."
It also could be considered rather overdue.
"This project is also significant because it represents the first total-reconstruction initiative undertaken on the Northeastern Extension since it opened more than 56 years ago on Nov. 23, 1955," Shuey added.
And don’t expect construction along the Keystone State to stop with this improvement project.
"We're not stopping here," Shuey said. "Once we've completed this project, we'll begin a similar reconstruction and widening of the Turnpike to the north, from Berks Road to the Lansdale Interchange."
The best bet is that before you get in the car for a trip or commute over the next couple of years it would probably be a good idea to check the Pa. Turnpike’s Travel Conditions Map and drivers should call 1-877-855-2545 for project-specific questions.
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