Blasting for the construction of the ramps for the new Penn Forest - Rt. 903/PA Turnpike All-Electronic Interchange may cause traffic stoppages on both roads on Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of August.
"We are excavating for the new ramps to connect the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Route 903 for the all access E-ZPass-only interchange that we are constructing," explained Mimi Doyle, Public Information Manager for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. "The blasting is to excavate the ramps so we can widen them."
"The blasting usually occurs at 1 p.m.," said Lynn Kahler of Trumbull Construction Management of Pittsburgh. "The traffic stoppages are once a day, running 5 to 10 minutes."
Blasting is scheduled to take place three times per week, Mondays through Thursdays at 1 p.m.. Because of vagaries in the weather, the contractor is permitted a window from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Drivers are advised that during this period stoppages could occur off up to 20 minutes, although stoppages of 5 to 10 minutes are more common.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reports that motorists traveling on the Northeastern Extension north from Mahoning Valley (Exit #74) and south from Pocono (Exit #95) will experience slow-moving traffic paces and stoppages.
Turnpike Maintenance personnel and Pennsylvania State Police will stop motorists traveling northbound at the Mahoning Valley Interchange and southbound at the Pocono Interchange then begin a slow-moving traffic pace , bringing traffic to a complete stop northbound at milepost A85 and southbound at milepost A89 in advance of the blast zone. Motorists leaving the Hickory Run Service Plaza to continue northbound on I-476 will be stopped on the ramp.
Motorists traveling the 21-mile stretch of I-476 between Mahoning Valley and the Pocono's, should continue to anticipate traffic restrictions for the duration of the project. To avoid delays over the next two-months of scheduled weekday stoppages, motorists are urged to seek alternate routes. The work is weather sensitive and may be delayed or rescheduled.
Because the locations of the interchange ramps contain appreciable rock formations, blasting is required. Holes, 3-1/2 inches in diameter are drilled to a depth between 10 feet and 22 feet. Dynamite is placed in the bottom of a hole, then an explosive mixture, then the hole is capped with inch stone.
For a typical blast sequence on the northbound exit ramp of the Turnpike, 110 holes were drilled. Once the charges are in place and the blasting is set, the explosives are detonated in a sequence milliseconds apart to fracture the rock. To the casual observer, it sounds like a single detonation.
The contractor's anticipated weekly blasting schedule and periodic travel advisories will be posted on the project website at: www.paturnpike.com/constructionprojects/RT903_All_Electronic_Interchange .
The PA Turnpike All-Electronic Interchange is budgeted at $23 million project, and is 100% funded by toll dollars. The interchange is scheduled to be opened in the fall of 2014.