Laurel Hill Tunnel

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Laurel Hill Tunnel
Laurel Hill Tunnel 1942.jpg
Laurel Hill Tunnel in 1942
Line South Penn abandoned
Location Laurel Hill
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°6′0.4″N 79°13′38.4″W / 40.100111°N 79.227333°W / 40.100111; -79.227333Coordinates: 40°6′0.4″N 79°13′38.4″W / 40.100111°N 79.227333°W / 40.100111; -79.227333
Status Closed to traffic, leased to Chip Ganassi Racing for testing
Work begun 1881 - railway
1938 - highway
Opened October 1, 1940
Owner Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
Construction 1881-1885 - railway
1938-1940 - highway
Length 5,450 feet (1,660 m) - railway
4,541 feet (1,384 m) - highway
Number of lanes 2

Laurel Hill Tunnel is one of three original Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnels which were abandoned (this one in 1964) after two massive realignment projects.

The Laurel Hill Tunnel was bored under the border between Westmoreland and Somerset Counties. The others, located further east, were the Sideling Hill (Fulton County) and Rays Hill Tunnels (under the border of Fulton and Bedford Counties). All of the original tunnels except Allegheny Mountain were part of the never-completed South Pennsylvania Railroad system.

Laurel Hill Tunnel is 4,541 feet (1,384 m) long. Its western portal is marginally visible from the current eastbound turnpike roadway at milepost 99.2.

Bypass of Tunnel[edit]

From the Turnpike's opening in 1940 until the realignment projects, the tunnels were bottlenecks due to reduced speeds with opposing traffic in the same tubes. Four other tunnels on the Turnpike - Allegheny Mountain, Tuscarora Mountain, Kittatinny Mountain, and Blue Mountain - each had a second tube bored, as it was determined in these instances to be the less expensive option. All of the original tunnels except Allegheny Mountain were part of the never-completed South Pennsylvania Railroad system.

Unlike the Sideling Hill and Rays Hill Tunnels, the Laurel Hill Tunnel is not on the bypassed section commonly known as the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, and the property is still owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. In addition, the tunnel is not open to the public. It is routinely patrolled by the Pennsylvania State Police, who strictly enforce "no trespassing" signs.[1]

Current Use[edit]

The tunnel is currently used by Chip Ganassi Racing for high-speed race car aerodynamic testing. The tunnel has been repaved, equipped with climate control, safety equipment, and data collection systems. The tunnel was first used for testing in 2004 to develop the G-Force Indycar.[2][3]


  1. ^ "Laurel Hill Tunnel Fast Facts". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "The secrets of Laurel Hill revealed". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "The secret racing test tunnel no one wants to talk about". Retrieved 11 January 2015.