PennDOT considers opening shoulder to traffic on I-76 in Montgomery County

     Vehicles pass through a flooded section of eastbound Interstate 76 in Gladwyne after a rainstorm last year. PennDFOT is considering allowing motorists to use the shoulder of the highway in parts of Montgomery County as one of several options to improve traffic flow. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    Vehicles pass through a flooded section of eastbound Interstate 76 in Gladwyne after a rainstorm last year. PennDFOT is considering allowing motorists to use the shoulder of the highway in parts of Montgomery County as one of several options to improve traffic flow. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    In an effort to improve traffic conditions on Interstate 76 between King of Prussia and City Line Avenue, PennDOT is studying whether it can open the shoulder to traffic and better use technology to operate the busy four-lane stretch of highway.

    Using the shoulder as an extra lane of traffic would be a first for PennDOT, said Gene Blaum, the agency’s assistant press secretary.

    “If it appears that it’s something that can feasibly be done, we would certainly look to it,” he said. “Because obviously traffic congestion is a major issue on I-76, and it would be a way to assist travel, especially during the peak travel times.”

    Blaum said the study by Jacobs Engineering will also examine the design and environmental challenges of temporarily transforming the shoulder into an open lane. If the concept proved successful, Blaum said it could be applied to other roads in Pennsylvania.

    The study will also consider how to use technology to improve traffic flow on the highway, which could include signs that warn drivers if they are approaching congested areas or speed limit signs that change based on road conditions.

    Blaum said the goal is to use existing technology to enhance an existing road, because “it’s something that could be done faster than a very long, lengthy process of ever trying to make major changes to the highway.”

    The study is expected to be completed this spring.

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