Originally designed for the rural communities of the 1940s and 1950s, the Pennsylvania Turnpike now needs extra capacity for today’s traffic demands. In response, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is widening the Turnpike in stages. A priority project was widening the 10.5-mile stretch from Mileposts A20-A31 (Mid-County to Lansdale Interchanges) through Philadelphia’s suburbs, which have grown remarkably in recent decades. Urban has served as design consultant for this estimated $400 million project since 2004. Our design achievements on Milepost A20-A26 were recognized with a 2015 Diamond Award Certificate from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania for Engineering Excellence.
Work includes construction of a third lane in each direction, 19 new bridges, and new access ramps; extension of culverts; and installation of new lighting, barriers, retaining walls, sound walls, and drainage systems. The new lanes feature wider, 12-foot shoulders in both directions.
We provided overall design for roadway, structures, and stormwater management and erosion and sediment pollution control systems. In addition, we prepared maintenance and protection of traffic, grading, pavement marking, and right-of-way (ROW) plans, as well as bid documents. Our traffic engineers developed signage, striping, and overhead signs for ramps and the turnpike.
The PTC’s goal was reconstruction with minimal disruption to the local economy and surrounding properties. The main design challenge was incorporating contemporary highway and environmental standards within a narrow ROW designed half a century ago and confining construction to the ROW as much as possible. Within this typically 200-foot-wide ROW, Urban needed to design a roadway with 122 feet of pavement width, along with embankment or cut slopes to support the highway, and drainage features. Stormwater management is provided through permanent, naturalized basins that require less frequent maintenance than conventional basins.
Public outreach was also key on this project. Urban met with property owners to get input throughout design. These meetings were vital to keeping the design on the schedule mandated by project funding agreements. To minimize land acquisition, we designed retaining walls to contain fills and cuts. Property owners were also able to choose texture and colors for adjacent sound barriers.
“Urban managed the project in an exceptional manner from the study stage through preliminary and final design to services during construction, meeting the Commission’s expectations, resulting in a design project delivered on time and within design budget. Urban’s efforts greatly improved the Commission’s facility within this stretch of the Turnpike; thus, supporting the Commission’s mission and vision to operate and manage a safe, reliable, cost effective and valued toll road system.”
– Gary L. Graham, PE, Assistant Chief Engineer, Design, PTC