Allegheny Mountain Tunnel

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"Allegheny Tunnel" redirects here. For the railroad tunnel of the name, see Gallitzin Tunnel.

Coordinates: 39°57′41.7″N 78°51′24.1″W / 39.961583°N 78.856694°W / 39.961583; -78.856694

Allegheny Mountain Tunnel
Allegheny Mountain Tunnel.JPG
The tunnel’s western entrance
Overview
Location Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Route I-70 / I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike)
Operation
Opened 1940 (present-day westbound tube); 1965 (present-day eastbound tube)
Character Twin-bore tunnel
Technical
Construction 1939
Length 6,070 feet (1,850 m)
Number of lanes 4 (two in each direction)
Highest elevation 2,314 feet (705 m)
Eastern entrance to the tunnel

The Allegheny Mountain Tunnel is a vehicular tunnel carrying the Pennsylvania Turnpike through the Allegheny Mountains. At this point, the Turnpike carries Interstates 70 and 76. The original Allegheny Mountain Tunnel was built in the late 19th century for the South Pennsylvania Railroad, which was never completed. This tunnel was not used due to concerns about its structural integrity.

The eastern end of this original tunnel can be seen by parking on the service road at the turnpike's eastern portal and walking up to the area just above and a bit north of the turnpike portal. The opening is visible in the rocks just uphill. Entering this old tunnel is prohibited.[1]

The current westbound tunnel was built in 1939 as part of the original construction for the highway. At first, this tunnel served both westbound and eastbound traffic with a single lane in each direction. The eastbound tunnel was completed in 1965 as part of an expansion and upgrade of the turnpike due to increased traffic volume. Both tunnels are approximately 6,070 feet (1,850 m) in length.[2] Explosives and other hazardous materials are not allowed in the tunnels. Vehicles carrying these materials must exit before the tunnel and take other roads around the tunnel. Restrictions on some hazardous materials in non-bulk form have been lifted.[3]

Long term plans call for major maintenance to be performed on the tunnels; however, this presents a major problem for traffic.[4] Terrible backups prompted officials to build the second tube. With today's traffic volumes, it would not be feasible to close one tube and route all traffic through the other. Possible plans include building a third tunnel, as well as bypassing the tunnels completely as was done for the Rays Hill and Sideling Hill Tunnels.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pennsylvania Highways: Pennsylvania Turnpike". Pahighways.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  2. ^ "The World's longest Tunnel Page: Tunnels in USA". Home.no.net. 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  3. ^ "Transportation of Placarded Loads". Paturnpike.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  4. ^ "The Pennsylvania Turnpike - Construction". Paturnpike.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15.