Skip to main content

I-70 Overpass to be replaced by July of 2011 - is a six lane I-70 possible?

PennDot quickly announced it's plans to rebuilt the Kammerer Interchange overpass that was destroyed by an over-height vehicle last week.  The new bridge that will carry McIlvanie Road over Interstate 70 should be re-opened in July of next year.

The new bridge will also be longer, wider, and higher.  The old bridge was built in the 1950s with a 14'9" clearance.  The new bridge will be built to modern interstate standards, and that means a higher vertical clearance of 16'6".  The cost will be between $4-$8 million.  The design-build contract will go out to bid on November 4th.

In the comments section of the original blog entry, Steve Williams suggested that PennDOT should bill the trucking company, driver, and insurance company for the cost to replace the bridge.  And according to PennDOT's Joe Szczur, they will be doing exactly that.  In the meantime, PennDOT is using emergency funds for the bridge replacement.

The new bridge will also be longer.  It will be built to accommodate a six lane I-70.  However, PennDOT doesn't have any concrete plans at the moment for widening the nearly sixty year old highway.  No word either if the replacement bridge will include a slight reconfiguration (wider) of the Kammerer Interchange.

Story Link:
Razed bridge's replacement set for July  ---Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Commentary:

My biggest takeaway from the article wasn't that PennDOT plans on billing the trucking company for the replacement bridge - or that it would be to modern interstate standards.  Common sense pretty much dictates that.  It was that the bridge will be built to accommodate a six lane I-70 that stuck out to me.

A six lane I-70 was first brought up in the 1970s.  This new I-70 would be built on a parallel alignment to the North.  However, the PennDOT fiscal crisis of the mid-70s killed any movement on that project.

So are there plans on the table for widening I-70 to six lanes? No, there is not.  Jon Schmitz of the Post-Gazette wrote me back and confirmed that there are not any immediate plans to widen the highway to six lanes.  The new bridge will have a 100 year life span, so hey why not build it to six lanes just in case that ever happens - and if the state ever has the money for it.

Right now PennDOT does have plans to do some safety improvements for I-70 which includes having a wider median, shoulders, and extending ramps where possible.  An example of this is currently underway at the Eight Four interchange with PA 519.  The interchange is being rebuilt and redesigned, and the highway is being widened to include a 10' median w/concrete barrier and 12' wide shoulders. But nothing about six lanes.

In order for a six lane I-70 to be possible, it's going to have to be tolled.  The right-of-way acquisition, interchange rebuilds, and more importantly the replacement of two lengthy bridges.  The Speers over the Monongahela and the Smithton High Level over the Youghbare going to put a six lane widening of I-70 from washing to New Stanton well into the billions of dollars.  and there's no real possibility of funding coming from traditional sources at this time.

So will we ever see a six lane I-70, I doubt it.  But that one line means PennDOT somewhere has an idea for it.

Comments

Brian said…
Most overpass reconstructions these days are designed to accommodate expanded roadways whether or not there are any widening plans in the near term, so it shouldn't be all that shocking that PennDOT would rebuild to better standards. They should be doing that, especially considering that they should be recouping the cost from insurance. It would be foolish for them to rebuild to the current standard (permissible when the result of an accident) and then have to bear the full cost should they have to expand later.

Popular posts from this blog

The Bayshore Freeway (US Route 101)

The Bayshore Freeway is a 56.4-mile component of US Route 101 located in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Bayshore Freeway connects the southern extent of San Jose to the Central Freeway in the city of San Francisco.  The corridor was originally developed as the Bayshore Highway between 1923 and 1937.  The Bayshore Highway would serve briefly as mainline US Route 101 before being reassigned as US Route 101 Bypass in 1938.  Conceptually the designs for the Bayshore Freeway originated in 1940 but construction would be delayed until 1947.  The Bayshore Freeway was completed by 1962 and became mainline US Route 101 during June 1963.   Part 1; the history of the Bayshore Freeway Prior the creation of the Bayshore Highway corridor the most commonly used highway between San Jose and San Francisco was El Camino Real (alternatively known as Peninsula Highway).  The  American El Camino Real  began as an early example of a signed as an Auto Trail starting in 1906.  The era of State Highway Mainte

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 41 through Paso Robles

Paso Robles is a city located on the Salinas River of San Luis Obispo County, California.  As originally configured the surface alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 41 converged in downtown Paso Robles.  US Route 101 originally was aligned through Paso Robles via Spring Street.  California State Route 41 entered the City of Paso Robles via Union Road and 13th Street where it intersected US Route 101 at Spring Street.  US Route 101 and California State Route 41 departed Paso Robles southbound via a multiplex which split near Templeton.   Pictured above is the cover of the September/October 1957 California Highways & Public Works which features construction of the Paso Robles Bypass.  Pictured below is the 1935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County which depicts US Route 101 and California State Route 41 intersecting in downtown Paso Robles.   Part 1; the history of US Route 101 and California State Route 41 in Paso Robles Paso Robles ("Pass of the

Paper Highways; US Route 20 Alternate over Teton Pass

The 8,431-foot-high Teton Pass lies in the Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains within Teton County, Wyoming.  Presently Teton Pass is crossed by Wyoming Highway 22 and Idaho State Highway 33.  At one point the highway over Teton Pass was signed as US Route 20 Alternate.  US Route 20 Alternate was over Teton Pass never formally approved by the American Association of State Highway Officials nor has the corridor ever been officially part of a US Route.  The image above was taken from the 1949 Rand McNally Map of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana which shows US Route 20 Alternate branching from US Route 20/US Route 191 near Sugar City, Idaho and crossing Teton Pass towards Jackson, Wyoming.   Part 1; the history of US Route 20 Alternate over Teton Pass No major Auto Trail was ever assigned to Teton Pass as evidenced by the 1925 Rand McNally Map of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming .  On the Wyoming side Teton Pass can be seen as part of Wyoming Highway 25 ("WY 25") whereas no State Highway is