In the not too distant future traffic will finally be able to travel between Interstate 95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike without having to use other roadways.

Ground has been broken on a project in the southeastern part of the state kicking off the start of the $500 million Stage 1 of the project.

The mainline toll facility is part of a $59 million contract that includes reconstruction and widening of a portion of Interstate 276 in Bensalem and the construction of an All-Electronic Tolling location for customers entering Pennsylvania via the Delaware River Bridge. The Stage 1 project corridor is located between the Bensalem Interchange, exit 351, and the Delaware River Bridge on the Turnpike, and from the Neshaminy Creek to the Turnpike along I-95.

When Stage 1 construction is completed sometime in 2018 (the anticipated timeframe based on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s current capital plan), the new I-95 movements will be opened to traffic.

Simultaneously, sections of the existing Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes will be redesignated as I-95, thus making the East Coast’s primary interstate highway continuous from Florida to Maine. Two additional Stage 1 interstate widening and improvement contracts along the Turnpike, set to begin in 2014, and I-95, set to begin in 2015, are needed to achieve this I-95 completion and redesignation.

Since 2010, construction projects completed in Stage 1 have included the replacement of two overhead bridges and a wetlands mitigation site. Several other projects are now in construction, including bridges carrying Ford Road over I-95 and Richlieu Road over I-276.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission began to study a high-speed interchange between the Turnpike and I-95 in 1992 in response to federal and state legislation. It then made a commitment to move forward with Stage 1 construction, funded by toll revenues and the remaining federal interstate completion dollars dedicated to this project.

Design activities for some of the Stage-2 work are still under way while funding sources for construction of the remaining interchange movements and Turnpike widening/reconstruction continue to be identified and sought. The cost for the project in its entirety is estimated to be $1.4 billion.

Just over 30 years ago the federal government mandated the Turnpike and I-95 be connected, but it took about two decades to secure the funding. When this section of I-95 was completed in 1969, it was illegal to connect an Interstate to a toll road.

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