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E-Z Pass plan for Rte. 903 New interchange project on Oct.21 meeting agenda

Published October 16. 2010 09:01AM

The new Route 903 interchange on the Pennsylvania Turnpike won't be operational until 2014, say turnpike officials.

Originally, the project in Penn Forest Township was to be a "slip ramp," for traffic exiting the turnpike only.

Instead it will become a full "E-Z Pass only" interchange.

An "open house meeting" on the project will be conducted by the Turnpike Commission from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at the Penn-Kidder Campus of the Jim Thorpe Area School District.

Turnpike officials said the Route 903 interchange plans and construction schedule will be on display for review, and project team members will be available to discuss this new interchange and the right-of-way acquisition process.

The all-electronic interchange will provide an unmanned point of access solely for use by E-Z Pass customers.

Carl DeFebo, spokesman for the turnpike commission, said the new link will shorten travel times for commuters, ease traffic congestion at adjacent interchanges and on local roads, and provide better access to nearby recreational area.

"This innovative interchange will positively affect the region by improving mobility and enhancing safety for travelers," said Joe Brimmeier, Turnpike CEO. "As we approach the next stage, we felt it was imperative to provide information to area residents about what lies ahead."

Phase 1, which involved the partial construction of a new bridge that will eventually carry Route 903 over the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike, was completed earlier this year.

Construction on the second phase will start in the spring of 2012, with full interchange completion and opening set for the spring of 2014.

DeFebo said the 19-mile distance between Mahoning Valley and Pocono exits is the longest on the Northeastern Extension without an interchange, and among the longest on the entire 545-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike system.

"This project is going to make a truly positive difference for so many people in Northern Carbon County, and I know residents are curious about the details, especially when the ramps will be open for business," said State Rep. Keith McCall. "I'm glad the turnpike commission is hosting this meeting, and I'm confident there will be an excellent turnout and dialogue."

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