For decades now it’s been a nightmare. From Interstate 95 through Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania turnpike looks like a logical way to get to quickly get east, say to I-95 in New Jersey, or west into Pennsylvania.
The only problem is that the two roads don’t actually connect. That’s about to change.
“Say you’re coming from Philadelphia and you wanted to go to New York, and you wanted to use the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes, you’ll have a direct 60 mile an hour ramp right onto our highway,” said Jeff Davis, project manager for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
That’s stage one of a five-year plan to build east and west interchange ramps in Bucks County where the two roads cross. The east-west access is being constructed first in order to connect I-95 in the two states.
A missing twenty miles of I-95 in New Jersey keeps the interstate from continuously running along the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine. This project will close that gap.
The two roads were built at different times back in the 1950s and 60s, and money sharing between toll roads and federal highway projects wasn’t allowed until legislation changed in the mid-80s, Davis said.
“Since then we went through an extensive environmental study, went through preliminary design, and finally we’re getting to construction now,” said Davis.
Interstate 95 drivers heading north through Philadelphia who want to cut over to the New Jersey Turnpike and continue on I-95 have a few options but they aren’t very direct. They can circle north of Trenton and then use I-195 to get over. Or they can use a combination of U.S. 1, N.J. 29 and I-195, if they know that route.
Davis says once the connection is made, it should lessen traffic on those local highways.
“I think this is certainly a transportation relief,” said Davis. “Once drivers hear that there’s an easier route or a better way to get there, they’ll catch on pretty quickly.”
The project will begin in late September, and should be completed by 2018.