Governor Tom Wolf joined Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards to announce the start of a long-range, comprehensive, multimodal transportation management plan designed to enhance travel and safety along the Interstate 76 (Schuylkill Expressway) corridor between King of Prussia and Philadelphia, according to a press release submitted by the governor’s office.
“My administration is not only focused on improving our roadways’ condition, but also the time it takes and the experience you have while traveling on them,” Governor Wolf said. “A government that works is one that uses every available resource for maximum impact, which we’re putting into practice on this corridor.”
PennDOT plans to employ a series of smart corridor strategies and technologies over the next several years through an integrated corridor management initiative intended to maximize capacity on I-76, optimize traffic flow on adjacent roadways and incentivize transit, bicycle, and pedestrian travel throughout the corridor.
The first phase of the plan includes installing a series of Variable Speed Limit (VSL) and Queue Warning (QW) systems on I-76 in Montgomery County. The VSL systems will display regulatory speed limits that can change based on real-time expressway, traffic, and weather conditions to improve traffic flow and safety by warning drivers of changing travel conditions. The QW systems will be deployed to provide real-time displays of electronic warning messages to alert motorists of significant slowdowns ahead to reduce sudden stopping and the potential for rear-end crashes.
“We are very focused on investing in and using our technology to make travel safer and smoother,” Richards said. “This initiative is a fantastic example of how we’re wisely using funds to maximize our existing network and improve mobility in the surrounding communities.”
Construction on this project begins later this month and will be completed in summer 2019 followed by a six-month testing period. Carr & Duff Inc., of Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County is the general contractor on the $8,647,955 project which is financed with 80 percent federal and 20 percent state funds.
Preliminary design is currently underway on the next phase of this corridor-wide transportation management plan which will include the modernization of traffic signal systems along several roadways running near the expressway; expansion of public transit service along the Manayunk/Norristown regional rail line; and transforming the existing shoulders on portions of I-76 to accommodate an additional travel lane or “flexible” travel lane during peak travel times.
To complement “flexible” lane use on I-76, PennDOT will incorporate additional smart corridor initiatives such as:
- Ramp Metering: Red and green traffic signals to control the frequency with which vehicles enter the flow of traffic from entrance ramps to increase vehicle throughput during peak hours and increase expressway speeds;
- Junction Control: The use of overhead electronic signs over travel lanes to regulate or close lanes at merge areas to improve traffic flow at high-volume interchanges, including U.S. 202/U.S. 422, I-476 and U.S. 1;
- Dynamic Lane Assignments: Overhead electronic signs provide information for each travel lane on the expressway to identify open lanes and alert drivers of upcoming lane closures due to crashes or disabled vehicles; and
- Multimodal Enhancements: In partnership with SEPTA, PennDOT plans to provide real-time transit information on electronic message signs along I-76 in conjunction with SEPTA’s potential deployment of a Smart Parking pilot program. The message board displays will inform motorists of transit station parking availability and real-time train departure times to better inform citizens of transit travel options. SEPTA also intends to enhance service on the Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail line.
PennDOT will also coordinate with Montgomery County, the City of Philadelphia, and other agencies to seek opportunities to upgrade the Schuylkill River Trail and other multimodal trails along the corridor with improvements, such as better wayfinding, parking and lighting to make this mode a more attractive commuter option.
PennDOT is currently coordinating with the Pennsylvania State Police and other EMS agencies to improve emergency response along the corridor.
PennDOT’s I-76 active traffic management plan was developed from a feasibility study of I-76 in Montgomery County. The study, which began in late 2014 and was completed in fall 2016, examined the viability and potential benefits associated with applying certain technologies and operational changes on the expressway.
For additional details on this corridor-wide improvement plan, visit www.transform76.com.
Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visitingwww.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
For more PennDOT information, visit www.penndot.gov or follow the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennsylvaniadepartmentoftransportation and Instagram atwww.instagram.com/pennsylvaniadot.