Lehigh Tunnel

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Lehigh Tunnel
Lehigh Tunnel.jpg
Entrance to the Lehigh Tunnel heading southbound
Overview
Location  United States Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°46′44″N 75°39′08″W / 40.7789°N 75.6523°W / 40.7789; -75.6523
Route Interstate 476 (Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension)
Operation
Work begun February 14, 1989 (1989-02-14)[1]
Opened November 9, 1991 (1991-11-09)[1]
Operator The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission[2]
Traffic Automotive
Character Road
Technical
Length 4,380 feet (1,340 m)[1]
Number of lanes 4[1]
Operating speed 55 mph (89 km/h)[3]

The Lehigh Tunnel is a pair of road tunnels that carries the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) under Blue Mountain north from Interstate 78 to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area between mileposts 70.7 to 71.5. Originally a single tunnel that opened to traffic in 1957, it was called the Lehigh Tunnel to avoid confusion with the existing Blue Mountain Tunnel on the mainline.[4] The tunnel was "twinned" in 1991 to allow two lanes of traffic in each direction. It has an unusual appearance, as the original (northbound) tunnel is rectangular, as it used the older dig-and-blast technique, while the new tube is oval, having been constructed using the New Austrian Tunnelling method.

From 1980 to 1996, the Northeast Extension was designated as Pennsylvania Route 9, as opposing traffic faced each other in the single tube at 55 mph prior to the opening of the current southbound tube, and therefore did not qualify for Interstate highway status, which was granted five years after the completion of the southbound tube.[5]

The Lehigh Tunnel crosses the border between Lehigh County and Carbon County. It is the only road tunnel crossed by the Appalachian Trail.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Through Seven Decades: A Brief History of the PA Turnpike". The Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Homepage". The Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Commission OKs raising turnpike speed limit (road watch)". Delaware County Daily Times. April 17, 2005. 
  4. ^ "Pennsylvania Turnpike". pahighways.com. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  5. ^ PA Highways.com page about the history of PA 9 Retrieved 2011-01-23

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′44″N 75°39′08″W / 40.7789°N 75.6523°W / 40.7789; -75.6523