Pennsylvania Essay, Research Paper

email: cls14@hotmail.comPennsylvania Turnpike CommissionThe reason I chose this topic is because my father works for the PA Turnpike Commission and in the future I would also like to be an employee for the Turnpike. I thought that it would be interesting to learn more about what my father does. So that is why I chose this topic. In the beginning the turnpike started out as a sixty-two mile log surfaced road. It was created to provide transport for settlers and their belongings over muddy grounds. At that time in 1792 it was called the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Company. In the 1880 s William Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie were building a railroad from Harrisburg west to Pittsburgh and over one-half of the roadbed was constructed with 7 tunnels partially excavated before Vanderbilt went broke in 1885. At that time they had to stop all construction on the railroad. In 1910, ideas arose about converting the abandoned railway route into a motorway. The trucking industry and the motoring public supported this idea. In 1934 surveyors collected information and engineers selected routes and prepared plans. In 1937 the governor signed a bill to create the PA Turnpike Commission during a period when the nation was still recovering from that era s depression. President Roosevelt supported the construction of the turnpike to lower unemployment through his WPA. Since bankers were skeptical of supporting the unproven nature of a toll superhighway, the project wound up being financed by a loan from the New Deal s Reconstruction Finance Corporation for almost $41 million at 3.75 percent. The WPA would also provide another $29 million in grants. The PA Turnpike project limits were from Middlesex, located west of Harrisburg, to Irwin, east of Pittsburgh, a distance of 160 miles. Eleven hundred engineers were employed to finish the job in twenty months. A standard sight distance of 600 feet was chosen. Straight-aways were designed for 100 mph and the spiral curves were built to accommodate 70 mph. They had to carve through valleys, ravines, and mountains to get the most direct route. After plans were completed in October 1938, 155 construction companies and 15,000 workers from 18 states were under contract with the Turnpike Commission. Six of the seven original railway tunnels ranging from 3,500 to 6,800 feet had to be completed or widened to allow two lanes of vehicles. Work began at a slow pace due to difficulties acquiring right-of-way, but a year later fifty crews were building a ribbon pavement at a rate of three-and-a-half miles a day.

The PA Turnpike officially entered service on October 1,1940, exhibiting new concepts of superhighway design and demonstrating that revenue bonds could finance toll roads. Planners predicted that 1.3 million vehicles would use the turnpike each year, but early actual usage was 2,4 million vehicles, sometimes as many as 10,000 vehicles per daywear recorded. In addition to reducing travel time between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg by three hours, the turnpike created an economic boom to areas along its path although the PA Turnpike has one of the lowest fatality rates in the country, the need for more safety improvements became apparent in response to the rising number of accidents. Improvements over the years have included better pavement drainage and stabilization, a 300-foot right-of-way, a 60-foot median, computerized toll booths, plazas moved back away from the road, and curves added to the boring, straight stretches to keep speed down. Because the Turnpike worries about your safety because its there job. They have four safety advisors on the turnpike who make sure that everything is safe for the public and the employees, that is what my father does he is a safety advisor in the valley forge area. As the PA Turnpike operates in its fifth decade of service, the original 160-mile route has been expanded to 506 miles, carrying 114.3 million vehicles a year at a toll of just over 4.1 cents a mile. In engineering design of this highway, utmost attention has been given to the driver s safety and comfort. Today the PA Turnpike, part of interstate 76, can be recognized as the first of a new breed of American tollways in the interstate highway system BIBLIOGRAPHY1) pamphlet on the stats and figures of the turnpike3) comments from John Sirriannia saety advisor for the Turnpike.

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