When and Where (and How) to Avoid I-76 This Week

Here’s the good news: I-76 is getting repaved!

If you use the highway to travel through Montgomery County between I-476 and City Avenue, expect a smoother commute (literally, at least) this fall, thanks to a major improvement project.

And now for the bad news: Until then, construction could make driving through that stretch the Schuylkill Expressway a nightmare. Starting this week, PennDOT will begin the process of milling, overlaying and rehabilitating existing pavement (as well as installing new guide rails and rumble strips and repairing and replacing damaged traffic signs).

That means delays and congestion are even more inevitable than usual. PennDOT is advising commuters to use alternate routes or allow extra time when traveling through work areas.

Preliminary operations kicked off today. Here’s what to expect throughout the rest of the week:

Tuesday
  • From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., intermittent lane closures are scheduled on the eastbound lanes between I-476 and U.S. 1 (City Avenue).
Wednesday and Thursday
  • From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. intermittent lane closures are scheduled on the westbound lanes between U.S. 1 (City Avenue) and I-476.
Friday
  • From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. intermittent lane closures are scheduled on the eastbound and westbound lanes at the I-476 Interchange

Starting June 26th, motorists can expect daily overnight lane closures from 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, expect lane closures between 9 p.m. and midmorning the next day.

The construction project is expected to wrap up this October. Until then, you might want to consider some alternate routes – including Conshohocken State Road (Rte. 23), Ridge Avenue or Henry Avenue (which connect to I-476 via Ridge Pike).

Best of luck out there!

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

We Won’t Be Driving on the Shoulders of the Schuylkill Expressway Anytime Soon

The Schuylkill Expressway westbound at the Conshohocken exit. A proposal to allow driving on the shoulder at peak hours may run into a few roadblocks. Photo | Krimpet via Wikimedia Commons, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Schuylkill Expressway westbound at the Conshohocken exit. A proposal to allow driving on the shoulder at peak hours may run into a few roadblocks. Photo | Krimpet. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The news earlier this month that PennDOT is considering opening the shoulders of the Schuylkill Expressway to general traffic at peak hours caused a stir in some circles, including ours.

There are indeed a number of people out there, including planners at PennDOT, who see this as a way to speed up traffic on the perennially clogged artery.

But before anyone can even think of traveling in these temporary third lanes, PennDOT has some engineering and design issues it needs to examine first. And PennDOT’s study doesn’t even attempt to answer the question: Is this wise policy to begin with?

Before getting to that question, though, let’s look at the other issues that need to be resolved first. Read more »

PennDOT Will Start Opening Shoulder Lane to Traffic on I-76

Schuylkill Expressway I-76 road

The Schuylkill Expressway on a relatively traffic-free day.

The Schuylkill Expressway is probably the most hated road in Philadelphia. Everyone who’s driven on it hates it. Our own Sandy Hingston chronicled the 10 worst types of drivers on the despised road last year.

But PennDOT has a plan to alleviate congestion — without any additional construction work. During rush hour, drivers will be allowed to use the shoulder as an additional lane.

PennDOT revealed the plan at the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2016 economic conference yesterday. “We know we need to do something, and we know we are restricted by the steep slope of the bedrock on the one side and the river on the other side,” PennDOT secretary Leslie Richards said. There is no timeframe for this change yet, however. Read more »