PennDot signals big changes ahead for I-76 in $8.6M upgrade

June 8, 2018

Gov. Tom Wolf joined Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards to announce this week the start of a long-range, $8.6 million plan to enhance travel and safety along Interstate Highway 76 between King of Prussia and Philadelphia.

“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,” 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 a series of smart corridor strategies and technologies over the next several years intended to maximize capacity on I-76, known locally as the Schuylkill Expressway, and optimize traffic flow on adjacent roadways. It would also incentivize transit, bicycle, and pedestrian travel throughout the corridor.

The first phase includes installing a series of Variable Speed Limit and Queue Warning systems on I-76 in Montgomery County.

The VSL systems will display regulatory speed limits that can change based on real-time traffic and weather conditions to improve traffic flow and safety for drivers. The QW systems will be deployed to provide real-time alerts to motorists about significant slowdowns ahead to them.

“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 will begin later this month and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019. That will be followed by a six-month testing period.

Carr & Duff Inc. of Montgomery County is the general contractor on the $8,647,955 project that is financed with 80 percent federal and 20 percent state funds.

Preliminary design is underway on the next phase that 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 lane, or “flexible” lane, during peak travel times.

The smart corridor project will include such modifications as:

Ramp Metering: Red and green traffic signals to control the flow of traffic entering the highway during peak hours and to help 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 such as U.S. 202-422, I-476 and U.S. 1.

Dynamic Lane Assignments: Overhead electronic signs to provide information for each travel lane along the expressway to identify open lanes and alert drivers of upcoming lane closures due to crashes or disabled vehicles.

Multimodal Enhancements: In partnership with Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 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 will inform motorists about transit station parking status and real-time train departure times. SEPTA also intends to enhance service on the Manayunk-Norristown Regional Rail line.

PennDOT will also coordinate with Montgomery and Philadelphia counties as well as other agencies to seek opportunities to upgrade the Schuylkill River Trail and other trails along the corridor with improvements, such as better parking and lighting to make their use more attractive commuter option.

PennDOT is also currently coordinating with the Pennsylvania State Police and other emergency management services to improve response times along the corridor.

PennDOT’s plan was developed from a study, which began in late 2014 and was completed in fall 2016. It examined the viability and potential benefits associated with applying certain technologies and operational changes on the expressway.

For additional details on improvement plan, visit transform76.com.