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Map of the Abandoned Turnpike (in red) in relation to the modern

Turnpike and other roads


Parts of the roadway. While still
intact in some areas, in others the
pavement is crumbling and is
overgrown with weeds.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike is
the common name of a 13-mile (21 km) stretch
of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was bypassed
in 1968 when a modern stretch opened to ease
traffic congestion in the tunnels. In this case,
the Sideling Hill Tunnel and Rays Hill Tunnel
were bypassed, as was one of the Turnpike's
travel plazas. The bypass is located just east of
the heavily congested Breezewood interchange
for Interstate 70 (I-70) eastbound at what is
now I-76 exit 161.
1 History
2 Today
3 Usage
4 Other tunnel bypasses
5 Access
6 See also
7 References
8 External links
When the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened in 1940, it was known as the
"Tunnel Highway" because it traversed seven tunnels: from east to west,
Blue Mountain, Kittatinny Mountain, Tuscarora Mountain, Sideling Hill,
Rays Hill, Allegheny Mountain, and Laurel Hill. There was one tunnel
through each mountain, and the highway was reduced to a single lane in
each direction through each tunnel.
These tunnels were originally built as part of the South Pennsylvania
Railroad.
Originally, this was not a problem, but by the late 1950s, the turnpike
was so heavily used that traffic congestion demanded expansion. The
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) conducted studies on either
expanding or bypassing the tunnels. The result was the "twinning" of
four tunnels (by constructing a second, parallel, two-lane tunnel), and outright bypass and closure of the other
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Eastern portal of the Sideling Hill
Tunnel
three. The tunnels through the Blue, Kittatinny, Tuscarora, and Allegheny mountains were expanded through
the "twinning" process, while the other three were bypassed. The Laurel Hill Tunnel, located on the border of
Westmoreland and Somerset counties, was one of these tunnels, though the bypass was only around two miles
(3.2 km) long.
The Sideling Hill and Rays Hill tunnels, on the other hand, were near each other, and a 13-mile (21 km) bypass
was required. As a result, the Cove Valley Travel Plaza, which was located between the eastern portal of the
Sideling Hill Tunnel and the present-day turnpike, was bypassed. It was replaced with a new Sideling Hill
Travel Plaza, which, unlike the plaza it replaced, was a single building serving travelers from both directions of
the highway.
Today, the Abandoned Turnpike, as it is commonly known, is a popular
tourist attraction. The PTC sold most of the property to the Southern
Alleghenies Conservancy (SAC) for $1 in 2001.
[1]
The property is
managed by Friends of the Pike 2 Bike, a coalition of non-profit groups
(including the SAC) to eventually convert the stretch into a bike trail.
The property is officially closed to the public,
[2]
and no motor vehicles
are allowed on the property, but bicycle riders are free to use it at their
own risk. The trail requires helmets and lights. Because this stretch sits
on parts of the former right-of-way of the South Pennsylvania Railroad
that was never completed but later formed the basis of the mainline
turnpike, this makes the Pike2Bike unofficially a rail trail. The PTC still
owns a stretch of about 0.25 miles (0.40 km) on the west and 3.5 miles
(5.6 km) on the east for maintenance purposes.
The entrance ways to the tunnels were in respectable shape through the early 1980s, when vandalism and time
began to take their toll; thieves stole the lettering of the signs of the tunnels sometime between 1981 and 1999.
The tunnels themselves are still standing and, despite not having been maintained for decades, are still
structurally sound.
A business plan and feasibility study was completed by Gannett Flemming in 2005.
[3]
It proposed various ideas
to make the trail as accessible as possible for cyclists, hikers, roller bladers, and equestrians.
As of November 2007, the trail is in the process of changing ownership to Bedford County. This is in response
to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' need for a governmental body to own
the trail before it can give out grants. The Friends of the Pike 2 Bike will continue to run and oversee the trail.
[3]
In the early 1970s, the emission levels of unleaded gasoline were tested in Rays Hill Tunnel. A Plymouth
Satellite was used as the test vehicle.
The PTC and PennDOT used the highway to train maintenance workers, as well as for testing of rumble
strips.
[4]
There have also been numerous military uses for the highway; the tunnels were considered as a storage area for
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Test rumble strips from the SNAP
project, just outside the western portal
of the Rays Hill Tunnel
Site of the former Cove Valley Travel
Plaza, the Sideling Hill Tunnel is
about a half mile to the west
weapons, as was the open highway for aircraft. The military also used
the highway for training soldiers for Iraq in the early 2000s, even after
the highway was sold to the SAC.
[5]
The site of the former Cove Valley Travel Plaza was used as a shooting
range for the Pennsylvania State Police. Since the SAC bought the
property, the site has not been used as a shooting range, although
warning signs are still posted in the area.
In 2008 the highway was used for the filming of the Dimension Films
movie The Road
[6]
starring Viggo Mortensen. The studios mildly
restored the exterior of the eastern portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel
when it was used for filming.
The Abandoned Turnpike is perhaps the best-known of tunnel bypasses
on toll roads. Among the other bypassed tunnels:
The aforementioned bypass of the Laurel Hill Tunnel, which
preceded the Sideling Hill and Rays Hill bypass by four years.
The Memorial Tunnel on the West Virginia Turnpike was
bypassed in 1987 to complete upgrading that highway to Interstate
standards. Unlike the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the West Virginia
Turnpike was built two lanes for its entire length, and needed an
additional two lanes in order to get the I-77 and I-64 designations.
The PTC considered bypassing the Lehigh Tunnel on the
Northeast Extension before ultimately deciding on twinning the tunnel. Cost for the bypass and
unnecessary added mileage to the highway were deciding factors.
[7]
The PTC has been considering bypassing the deteriorating Allegheny Mountain Tunnel to alleviate traffic
congestion.
[8]
Boring a third tunnel is also being considered.
In 2005, the PTC restricted access to the abandoned turnpike by demolishing an overpass over U.S. Route 30
(US 30) in Breezewood and an overpass on Pump Station Road near the site of the old Cove Valley Travel
Plaza. The demolition of the overpasses removed the liability and expense of repairing the aging bridges,
marked the property lines between the public and the PTC-owned sections of the property, and prevented
motorized vehicles from easily entering the abandoned turnpike.
The original plans for the removal included an access road, but somewhere along the way, it was removed and
not known to Pike 2 Bike officials until it was too late. As of 2012, the Friends of the Pike 2 Bike are seeking to
obtain grants that will allow the building of an access road and to rebuild on it the last remaining original toll
booth, which was obtained in 2006. The toll booth will be used to collect a parking donation that will be used to
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End of the remaining PTC-owned
stub of the Abandoned Pennsylvania
Turnpike following the demolition of
a bridge over US 30
Access point at US 30 and Tannery
Road
pay for maintenance. An access road was built in the late 2000s on the
PTC-owned side of the former Pump Station Road overpass, making the
3.5-mile (5.6 km) section still owned by the PTC a de facto access road
to the active turnpike in itself; however, like other access roads along the
turnpike, it is off-limits to the public and is only used by the PTC or
Pennsylvania State Police.
There are three access points to the public section of the abandoned
highway:
The intersection of Tannery Road and US 30 in Breezewood sits
near the western end of the turnpike, which can be reached by
climbing a small hill. Parking is available in front of the orange
snow fence at the bottom of the hill. Rays Hill Tunnel lies about
two miles east of this point.
A parking lot exists on the trail at the eastern end of the turnpike
off Pump Station Road north of US 30; the entrance is a service
road just south of where a turnpike overpass was removed in
2005. This access point lies near the site of the former Cove
Valley Travel Plaza and about one mile east of the Sideling Hill
Tunnel.
A forest service path called Oregon Road leaves US Route 30 at that highway's intersection with
Pennsylvania Route 915 in the village of Crystal Spring and runs north for several miles before
reconnecting with PA 915 near Valley-Hi. Oregon Road runs parallel and adjacent to the abandoned
highway for much of its length, and several clearings in the forest allow for parking and access to the
road. These access points lie between the two tunnels: Rays Hill is about three miles west and Sideling
Hill is about two miles east.
Pennsylvania portal
U.S. Roads portal
^ Walsh, Larry (November 4, 2001). "Cycling: Tighter security near Confluence dam sends cyclists in search of new
campsite" (http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/outdoors/20011104walsh1104p3.asp). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Retrieved September 14, 2006.
1.
Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandoned_Pennsylvania_Turnpike
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Wikimedia Commons has
media related to Abandoned
Pennsylvania Turnpike.
^ O'Toole, Christine H. (August 17, 2005). "The Pennsylvania Turnbike" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn
/content/article/2005/08/16/AR2005081601289.html). The Washington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
2.
^
a

b
Staff. "Pike 2 Bike Tunnel Trail History" (http://web.archive.org/web/20090519050217/http:
//www.piketobike.org/history.htm). Pike 2 Bike. Archived from the original (http://www.piketobike.org/history.htm)
on May 19, 2009. Retrieved J uly 15, 2009.
3.
^ Plazek, Ray (J une 29, 2005). "Home Page" (http://www.abandonedturnpike.com). Abandoned Turnpike.
Self-published. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
4.
^ "Abandoned Stretch of Turnpike in PA" (http://www.constructionequipmentguide.com/story.asp?story=6495).
Construction Equipment Guide. Retrieved J uly 15, 2009.
5.
^ "First Look: The Road" (http://www.usatoday.com/life/gallery/2008/l080807_theroad/flash.htm?gid=654&
aid=3108). USA Today. August 6, 2008. photo 3. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
6.
^ Kitsko, J effrey J . (March 16, 2011). "Pennsylvania Turnpike" (http://www.pahighways.com
/toll/PATurnpike.html#Chapter9). Pennsylvania Highways. Self-published. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
7.
^ DeFebo, Carl (Winter 2000). "Improving the Roadway: Turnpike Considers Tunnel Options"
(http://www.paturnpike.com/newsletters/winter2000/page03.htm). Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Retrieved
J uly 15, 2009.
8.
Pike 2 Bike (http://www.pike2bike.org)
Abandoned Turnpike (http://www.abandonedturnpike.com)
Rays Hill Tunnels pages (http://www.rays-hill.com/turnpike
/web_pages/Cove-Valley.htm)
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Abandoned_Pennsylvania_Turnpike&
oldid=616319543"
Categories: Demolished highways in the United States Historic trails and roads in Pennsylvania
Parks in Bedford County, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
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