Pennsylvania Railroad - Pennsylvania Turnpike
October 1948 Map
showing the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Philadelpia Extension and Proposed Extensions.
Also includes connecting Federal and State highways and the Pennsylvania Railroad
main line and branches crossed by Turnpike.
from a 1948 PRR Board of Directors Inspection of Physical Property.
THE PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was created by Act 211, of the Pennsylvania Legislature on May 21, 1937.
The present completed section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike extends a distance of 159.6 miles from Middlesex, about 16 miles west of Harrisburg, to Irwin, about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh.
It occupies largely the abandoned right-of-way of the projected South Penn Railroad. which was never built, but the grading and tunnel construction for which was partially completed many years ago before abandonment of the project.
It is a four-lane super-highway, the two eastbound and two westbound lanes being separated by a grass planted strip, except through the seven tunnels where lanes converge and the highway becomes two-lane. The tunnels total 6.7 miles in length and save approximately 9,000 feet of vertical climb over other existing routes. The tunnels are lighted and ventilated. Throughout its length there are no crossings at grade with other roads. In addition to the eastern and western termini at Middlesex and Irwin, there are nine (9) other interchange points with cross connecting roads where traffic may enter or leave the Turnpike by means of clover leaf layouts.
In 1939 agreements were made whereby the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission granted permission to construct bridges to carry the super-highway over Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at five locations, viz., (1) Mt. Dallas Branch, (2) Bedford Branch, (3) Boyer Run Branch extension, (4) South West Branch and (5) Hempfield Branch.
The first contract for construction was let on October 26, 1938, and the highway was opened to traffic on October 1, 1940. The total cost of the completed project between Middlesex and Irwin was in excess of $70,000,000. It was made possible by a grant of $29,250,000 by the Public Works Administration and a loan by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation amounting to $40,000,000.
PROPOSED EASTERN EXTENSION
The proposed extension of the Turnpike to the east will extend about 90 miles from Middlesex to King of Prussia, about 15 miles west of Philadelphia.
It will be a four-lane super-highway with the two eastbound and two westbound lanes separated by a planted strip. There will be no tunnels on this section. The grade will not exceed 2 per cent, and there will be no crossroad intersections at grade anywhere along this route, but there will be seven or eight clover leaf interchanges from this highway to connect with all principal points.
Between Middlesex and King of Prussia the proposed extension will cross the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad overhead at six locations, namely; (1) Cumberland Valley Branch north of Middlesex, (2) Dillsburg Branch south of Mechanicsburg, (3) Northern Central Line east of New Cumberland (4) Main Line at Highspire, (5) Lebanon Branch, west of Lawn, and (6) Phoenixville Branch north of Devault.
The estimated cost of the proposed eastern extension to King of Prussia is between $75,000,000 and $87,000,000. The accompanying map shows the existing and Proposed highway.