Northeast Extension Work Continues in Pa.

The project entails rebuilding sections of the nearly 75-year-old mainline Turnpike facility from the ground up.

📅   Tue June 30, 2015 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero - CEG CORRESPONDENT


With the PA Turnpike being a limited access highway, bringing supplies into the site offered a huge challenge.
With the PA Turnpike being a limited access highway, bringing supplies into the site offered a huge challenge.
With the PA Turnpike being a limited access highway, bringing supplies into the site offered a huge challenge. In order to reach the farthest T-Wall section, a Telebelt needed to be used. Once the sections were backfilled, the machine moved out and a Grove RT 765 crane was brought in to set the next set of panels. This process repeated for the entire height and length of the wall. There was a lot of excavated material on this project, and crushers were a common sight along the project route. A Grove GMK6250L works along the Northeastern extension. Crews perform piling at the Sumneytown Pike bridge over the PA Turnpike. A John Deere mini-excavator works in tight quarters along the PA Turnpike. Walsh Construction was the awarded low bidder for the $151 million construction contract for the 6-mi. (9.6 km) southern section of the Northeastern Extension from the Mid-County Interchange (Milepost A20) to Berks Road (Milepost A26). A Manitowoc 8500-1 rises high above the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is currently working on a $2 billion statewide total reconstruction initiative, which entails rebuilding sections of the nearly 75-year-old mainline Turnpike facility from the ground up.

The new roadway design meets current interstate design standards and will provide a safer and more efficient travel experience for Turnpike drivers, according to the Web site. It also will accommodate the growing number of vehicles on the roadway. Traffic volumes, currently estimated at 67,000 vehicles per day (vpd) on this section of the Turnpike roadway, are projected to reach 100,000 by the year 2030.

As part of the PTC’s initiative, two construction contracts have been awarded for an 11-mi. (17.7 km) total reconstruction and six-lane widening project on the Northeastern Extension (I-476). The project is financed with toll dollars, with no federal funds or state funding involved.

This portion of the initiative involves the stretch of I-476 from the Mid-County Interchange (the I-276/I-476 junction) to just north of the Lansdale Interchange in Montgomery County, which was open to traffic in 1955. Upon completion of this project, the existing four-lane facility (12-ft. travel lanes, with a limited left-lane shoulder and 8- to 10-ft. right lane shoulder) will be reconstructed to accommodate six 12-ft. travel lanes with 12-ft. left and right shoulders.

The total reconstruction and six-lane widening of I-476 between the Mid-County (Exit #20) and Lansdale (Exit #31) interchanges (milepost A20.31 to A31.34) is being constructed in two parts. The Southern section contract covers the area from the Mid-County Interchange (junction I-276/I-476) to Berks Road (Milepost A20.34-A25.67), and the Northern section contract includes the area just south of Berks Road to north of the Lansdale Interchange (Milepost A25.67-A31.34). The combined cost of design and construction is estimated at $480 million.

Eight overhead bridges will be replaced and widened to accommodate the new six-lane facility. To date, six bridges are complete. The bridges include Bethel Road and Kriebel Road, completed in November 2008; Walton Road and DeKalb Pike (SR 202), completed in October 2010; Morris Road, completed in May 2011; Sumneytown Pike (SR 63), completed in September 2013; Bustard Road (to be open June 2015); and Lansdale Interchange ramp-bridge, currently in construction.

Full-depth reconstruction involves removing all original pavement and sub-base and replacing it with an entirely new roadway. All other facets of the highway also will be replaced, including lighting, concrete barrier and guiderail. Sound barriers and retaining walls will be constructed and stormwater management basins installed.

The project also includes the replacement of 13 mainline bridges, which carry the Turnpike over local roads, railroads, or streams.

The following mainline structures will be replaced as part of the northern section widening project (Milepost A26-A31) which traverses Worcester, Upper Gwynedd, Towamencin and Lower Salford Townships: Berks Road, Schultz Road, S. Valley Forge Road (SR 363), Green Lane Road, Wambold Road, and Skippack Creek.

In the southern section (Milepost A20-A26): six mainline bridges were replaced in Plymouth, Whitpain and Worcester Townships. The bridges crossed over Hickory Road, Township Line Road, Jolly Road, Wentz Road, North Wales Road, Skippack Pike (SR 73) and a railroad.

Southern Section Mainline Reconstruction and Widening

Walsh Construction was the awarded low bidder for the $151 million construction contract for the 6-mi. (9.6 km) southern section of the Northeastern Extension from the Mid-County Interchange (Milepost A20) to Berks Road (Milepost A26). Construction on this section of the mainline Turnpike roadway and its seven mainline bridges began in January 2011 and the new pavement was opened to six lanes October 2014.

“Working in tight quarters presented many challenges, most notably job site access,” said Richard Nowatnick, assistant roadway project manager of McTish, Kunkel & Associates, construction project managers. “The T-Walls didn’t allow machines to pass behind or above the wall until there was significant back fill coverage over the stems. The wall had to be erected from the center outward in two directions, installing and backfilling multiple sections at a time. In order to reach the farthest T-Wall section, a Telebelt needed to be used. Once the sections were backfilled, the machine moved out and a Grove RT 765 crane was brought in to set the next set of panels. This process repeated for the entire height and length of the wall.”

Subcontractors for this section of the project include Blair Corporation, B & M Electric Company, Beth’s Barricades, Boulderscape, Bruce & Merrilees, Buy Eye, CHESCO, Corbo Tree Service, Earth Engineering, East Penn Trucking, Faddis Inc., Gracie Painting, Guidemark Inc., Haines & Kibblehouse, J & B Welding Inc., J & J Transport Inc., J. Mastrocoloa Hauling, L.Z. Painting, Landclearing, Landmarker, L.B. Enterprises, M.L. Ruberton, Madura Steel Sales, Missouri Valley, Neseter Inc., North Suburban Tree, OMEGA Demolition, Plum Contracting, Protection Services Inc., Reilly Sweeping, Rosey’s Tank Cleaning, Strongstown B & K, Structural Services, Terra Structures, Top Shelf Drilling, Tristate Grouting Inc., Valley Seeding, and Windsor Services.

Northern Section Mainline Reconstruction and Widening

Allan Myers was the awarded low bidder for the northern half of the Northeastern Extension Total Reconstruction and Widening Project from Berks Road (Milepost A26) to the Lansdale Interchange (Milepost A31). Construction began in May and all six lanes are expected to be open to traffic by fall 2016.

Improvements to the Lansdale Interchange are included as part of the Northeastern Extension Total Reconstruction and Widening Project northern section construction. In addition to work on the existing entry and exit ramps at the Lansdale interchange, plans include three new auxiliary ramps (two will be E-ZPass Only ramps).

“One of the major challenges on the project was access,” said Bill Muzika, senior project manager of Allan Myers. “With the PA Turnpike being a limited access highway, bringing supplies into the site offered a huge challenge. We are only permitted to use directional construction entrances at specified hours. To minimize the traffic impact on one operation, sound barrier construction, Allan Myers chose to install full height concrete panels. Some exceeded 20 feet in height, which required a large crawler crane to install. We chose to use a Manitowoc 12000, 120-ton crawler to perform the lifts and all the panels are being installed from the Turnpike side of the barrier.”

Subcontractors for this section of the project include Archer Steel, Beth’s Barricades, CHESCO, CIS, Corbo, Donegal Construction Corp., Established Traffic Control (ETC), General Sewer Services, Germantown Welding Inc, Green Valley Landscaping, GRI, Hilltop Services Inc., Kuharchik, Long Fence, Mar-Allen, Mattiola Services LLC, McCrossin Foundations Div., North Suburban Tree Services Inc., Northeast Prestressed Concrete, Ocotillo Inc., Old Castle, Plum, Reilly Sweeping Inc., Spectra, Strongstown’s B & K Ent. Inc., Weaver Mulching, William Orr and Sons, and Zone Striping Inc.