Turnpike’s I-80 Improvement Plan Quadruples Interstate Investment
Plan will complete I-99 link, replace 60 bridges and refurbish most of I-80 in 10 years.
HARRISBURG, PA (07/14/2008)(readMedia)-- The PA Turnpike Commission today unveiled a sweeping plan to repair and ultimately rebuild Interstate 80. The first decade of capital improvement projects calls for an investment of more than $2.5 billion - four times the current investment in the Interstate.
"We now have a detailed improvement plan for I-80 backed by an increasing revenue stream," said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. "As the stewards of I-80, this plan ensures we are passing on a first-class transportation system to the next generation."
The plan includes construction of two new interchanges linking I-99 and I-80 and the replacement or resurfacing of about 80 percent of I-80's 311-mile roadway. It calls for replacing 60 original I-80 bridges in the first decade alone. Taking into account the larger size and cost of some of these bridge projects, this represents approximately 24% of the original I-80 bridges replaced in the first decade alone. The remaining original bridges will be replaced over the life of the lease.
More than half of Interstate 80 is 35 to 50 years old and is reaching its expected life. The bridges and pavement need to be reconstructed from the ground up or the surface will deteriorate.
"PennDOT has done an admirable job managing resources and repairing the surface," Brimmeier noted. "But the bottom line is that we need to rebuild I-80, and PennDOT cannot provide the funding for this effort."
Under Act 44, the state's transportation funding bill approved last year, 45 percent of the state's Interstate system will be fully funded through tolls. Both the PA Turnpike and all of I-80 will be self-sustaining.
Brimmeier noted that the stakes for Pennsylvania could not be higher. The state is already facing a $660 million gap in funding to maintain its Interstate system, according to PennDOT. Absent successful implementation of Act 44, it will fall further behind.
In the first decade of the I-80 renewal plan:
- The Turnpike Commission will begin construction of two interchanges linking I-80 and I-99 at an estimated cost of $179 million in the first three years of the plan.
- About 60 of the "original" bridges will be replaced. The remaining original bridges will be replaced over the 50-year lease. All structurally deficient, weak link, fracture critical, and bridges with less than 15 feet overhead clearance will be under way in the first decade.
- About 80 percent of the 311 miles of I-80 in Pennsylvania will be replaced or resurfaced.
- The Turnpike Commission will invest approximately $4 million per year (inflated annually) in Intelligent Transportation System upgrades, including motorist warning signs to enhance safety and mobility in the corridor.
As mandated by Act 44, the Turnpike has leased I-80 from PennDOT for 50 years and is preparing to assume management of the Interstate. The Commonwealth is seeking Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) authorization to collect tolls on the highway as part of an overall plan to generate a total of $83.3 billion in funding for roads, bridges and mass transit agencies over five decades.
Project officials are developing possible locations for up to 10 toll facilities along the I-80 corridor. Locations will be presented to nine regional planning organizations this month, and proposed toll sites may also be presented in upcoming community meetings to provide an opportunity for public input.
By July 31, 2008 the Turnpike will have provided nearly $1 billion in Act 44 funding over 12 months for road, bridge and mass transit projects. Under Act 44, signed by Gov. Rendell in July, 2007, annual Turnpike payments to PennDOT will average more than $1 billion over the next 12 years or almost $1.7 billion a year over 50 years.
Act 44 calls for increased tolls on the current Turnpike system and new tolls on I-80. Under the law, two-thirds of new revenue will be generated by tolls on the current Turnpike system and one-third will be collected from new tolls on I-80. I-80 toll revenues will not be used for mass transit.
Last December, FHWA asked the Commonwealth to provide more detail in its tolling application - a move that in the federal agency's own words constituted neither acceptance nor denial of I-80 tolling. "We are committed to providing FHWA everything they need to make a sound, informed decision." Brimmeier noted. "After months of in-depth engineering work needed to answer their questions, we hope to resubmit our amended application sometime before the end of the summer."
"We witnessed the recent closing of I-95, a vital national artery in April. Routinely, we see stories from around the state about bridges that need to be restricted or closed," Brimmeier said. "The Turnpike, under Act 44, is helping to address this crisis without raising taxes."
For more information on Act 44 and the I-80 improvement plan, go to www.paturnpike.com/i80.
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