Turnpike expansion begins near Carlisle

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Since 2005, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has been on a mission to completely rebuild the toll highway between the Carlisle Interchange and the Blue Mountain Tunnel.

“It is one of the original Turnpike stretches. It is going to turn 75 years old this year, so it is direly in need of being replaced and widened,” Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

Work in the Carlisle area started earlier this year. Crews are building new lanes, widening the road from four to six lanes and putting in new guide rails, lighting and drainage.

“We are investing $500 million in this whole initiative for 26 miles of new Turnpike at a cost of 18 or 19 million dollars per mile. It is a significant undertaking,” DeFebo said.

There has also been talk about adding an all-electronic interchange. It is an an E-Z pass only entrance and exit.

Some Carlisle area businesses are hoping an all electronic interchange would be put near the already existing Carlisle Interchange to help traffic flow.

“I do know that this has been an ongoing discussion for years,” said Mike Garland, a media specialist for Carlisle Events.

Although Garland is not aware of any official talks about proposing an all-electronic interchange, he says many businesses believe it could help with economic redevelopment in the Carlisle area.

“If there is an easier way to get to the north side of town and connect to other parts of town, we certainly would be all for it,” he said.

“There are no active plans right now to build one, but if there is interest locally the Turnpike Commission would certainly sit down with them to discuss that further,” DeFebo said.

The commission says the ongoing construction should not cause any delays.

“Other than having shoulder restrictions, we hope that our customers will barely notice the work going on,” DeFebo said.

The entire project should be completed by 2018.

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