Category Archives: Turnpikes and Toll Roads

Turnpike and toll road news for all states

Florida’s Turnpike Closing Overnight For One Week

North Section Of Turnpike Being Modified To Accommodate More Traffic

A five-mile stretch of Florida’s Turnpike will be closing overnight starting Monday, March 13, 2017 and continuing through Friday, March 17, 2017, officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have announced. The closures will be in effect for a four-hour period each morning, from about 12:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m., authorities said in a written release.

The closures are necessary, officials said, to accommodate road-widening and resurfacing along that stretch of the Turnpike, through Wildwood. Additional improvements will also improve traffic flow at the I-75 interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, officials announced.

Detours During Turnpike Closure

Path of detour on Florida's Turnpike
Drivers who want to get onto Florida’s Turnpike southbound from I-75 will have to exit I-75 at Florida’s State Road 44, then travel east to U.S. 301. From U.S. 301, drivers can travel southbound to the entrance of Florida’s Turnpike.

Drivers who are traveling north on Florida’s Turnpike will follow the same detour, but in the opposite direction. Drivers will be detoured off the turnpike at Exit 304, then turned north on U.S. 301 to Florida State Road 44. Drivers will then be detoured west on SR 44 to I-75.

Delaware River Bridge To Remain Closed Two Months

Officials Announce April Reopening, But Only If “Best Case Scenario” Prevails

The Delaware River Bridge, which connects the New Jersey Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, is slated to remain closed at least another eight weeks, officials announced Friday. The bridge was shut to civilian traffic on Friday, January 20 when a large crack was discovered in a support truss. The decision to keep the bridge closed was made by a joint engineering task force being co-led by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The agencies jointly own and manage the DRB.

Jacking And Realigning Bridge To Take At Least One Month

Crack in Delaware River Bridge

Weight loads shifted considerably, officials say, when this crack opened in a support truss of the DRB, which has been closed to traffic since January 20, 2017. The bridge now must be realigned before the fracture can be repaired.

That means the next several weeks will be devoted to installing temporary towers and hydraulic jacks to realign the bridge. The groundwork for the jacking towers began last week, authorities said. Steel-pipe pilings are being installed underground, according to officials, that will support 80-foot towers. Those towers will be carefully jacked into position to realign the bridge, but that will not happen until early March, at least, according to authorities.

However, officials admit they do not know whether the rest of the bridge can support a regular traffic flow, and authorities said they will not be able to determine that until the jacking process is completed.

“The goal of the jacking operation is to return the bridge to its original position and allow us to complete a permanent splice of the fracture,” said Brad Heigel, Chief Engineer for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “As the jacking operation occurs, and load is transferred within the bridge, instrumentation will monitor the actual loads, stresses and displacements, which will be compared to estimated outcomes from computer models.”

Agency Heads Say They Hope For “Best Case Scenario”, But Sound Cautionary Tone

“Under the best case scenario, the bridge will return to its original position and the construction team will be able to install a permanent repair splice on the fractured steel member,” officials with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority wrote in a prepared statement. “It is possible, however, that the process will reveal the need for a [sic] more complex repairs or possibly even replacement of the entire structure, in which case the closure would last longer.”

“We want to get this bridge reopened to traffic as soon as we are safely able to do so,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Richard T. Hammer. Hammer also serves as chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority board.

“We understand the inconvenience this closure creates for tens of thousands of drivers every day,” he said. “We are working around the clock to get it reopened. But we won’t allow a single car to cross that bridge until we are absolutely certain that it is safe.”

Alternate routes remain in effect for traffic crossing between the two states’ turnpikes. Authorities say the DRB carries an average of 42-thousand vehicles per day across the now-disabled span.

REPAIR TIMETABLE

The PTC announced a tentative repair timetable, which authorities say represents the best case scenario for reopening the bridge to traffic. That timetable is as follows:

Estimated Bridge Repair Timetable

  • Feb. 6 – Install jacking towers.
  • Feb. 13 – Install jacking towers, instrumentation and structural reinforcement required for jacking.
  • Feb. 20 – Install instrumentation and structural reinforcement required for jacking.
  • Feb. 27 – Install structural reinforcement required for jacking.
  • March 6 – Perform jacking.
  • March 13 – Install permanent repair splice.
  • March 20 – Perform load testing.
  • March 27 – Demobilize jacking towers.


ALTERNATE ROUTES

Eastbound Detour (Pennsylvania to New Jersey)

PA Turnpike motorists heading east into New Jersey should use this revised alternate route: Exit at the Bensalem Interchange, #351 in Bucks County. Follow U.S. Route 1 north, to I-95 north, to I-295, south, to I-195 east. Take Exit 6 on I-195, and reenter the NJ Turnpike. Source: PA Turnpike Commission.

Westbound Detour (New Jersey to Pennsylvania)

NJTP drivers heading west into Pennsylvania will need to use either Interstate 78, Interstate 295, or the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. Source: New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

“Extreme Delays” Likely Between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Authorities Warn

Delaware River Bridge To Be Closed Indefinitely Due To Crack In Structure

Delaware River Bridge

The Delaware River Bridge, linking New Jersey and Pennsylvania drivers, will remain closed indefinitely, officials have announced.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority are, jointly, warning drivers to expect “extreme delays” at crossings over the Delaware River due to the closure of the Delaware River Bridge. The bridge, which connects the New Jersey Turnpike to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, was closed Friday afternoon after a painting crew found a large crack in a support truss.

Officials with each state office were asking drivers to consider using public transit or carpooling to help reduce congestion. Authorities also have suggested people consider adjusting their work schedules, for those who can do so, or consider working from home, known in the tech world as telecommuting.

Updated Detours From State Officials In Pennsylvania And New Jersey

Meanwhile, authorities in both states listed an updated detour list, given the DRB is likely to remain closed for weeks to come. Essentially, drivers heading to New Jersey will be detoured off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Exit 351, although local traffic will be permitted to access Exit 358, authorities with the PA Turnpike Commission announced. Meanwhile, drivers heading to Pennsylvania will be detoured off the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 7A.

The full set of detours released by the states’ respective commissions is as follows:

  • Motorists heading to New Jersey will be detoured at PA Turnpike Exit 351 to Route 1 northbound to I-95 northbound, which becomes I-295 southbound in New Jersey, to I-195 eastbound to the New Jersey Turnpike. PA Turnpike Exit #358, Delaware Valley, will remain open for local traffic only; watch out for a single-lane pattern approaching Delaware Valley.
  • Motorists heading to Pennsylvania will be detoured at New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 7A to I-195 westbound to I-295 northbound, which becomes I-95 southbound; or from New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 5 to Mount Holly Road. Motorists traveling from northern New Jersey are advised to exit at Interchange 14 and use I-78 west into Pennsylvania.

Bridge Analysis To Take Several Weeks

Crack in Delaware River Bridge

The Culprit: This fracture, discovered by a painting crew Friday, January 20, forced the closure of the Delaware River Bridge. Officials said an analysis of the bridge’s structure will take several weeks. Until that is completed, at the very least, the bridge will remain closed. Photo: PA Turnpike Commission.

Engineers and construction crews worked through the weekend to stabilize the bridge at the site of the fracture; however, officials announced Saturday that a structural analysis of the bridge would take several weeks. “A comprehensive bridge analysis will be performed to better understand the global impact the fracture has had on the entire bridge,” authorities announced in a news release. “Information gathered is critical to determine the scope of and strategy for a permanent repair and reopening the bridge to traffic.”

“Unfortunately, at a minimum, the bridge will remain closed for several weeks,” said New Jersey Turnpike Authority Executive Director Joseph W. Mrozek in a written statement. “We will not be able to reopen it until we are absolutely certain it is safe. All of the agencies and contractors involved will be working urgently to make that happen as quickly as possible.”

The bridge has been undergoing a $61-million rehabilitation since 2012, according to officials, with in-depth inspections of the structure every two years. The $400-thousand cost is shared between the PTC and the NJTA, although the New Jersey Turnpike Authority manages the contract.

Sean Logan, chairman of the PA Turnpike Commission, said the most likely cause of the crack was rapidly-changing weather conditions, but that a complete analysis was prudent and necessary, aside simply assessing the fracture’s impact on the bridge.

“We are stabilizing the bridge now to prevent further movement,” Logan wrote. “However, out of an abundance of caution and to protect traveler safety, the bridge must remain closed until a full-scale analysis and repair plan have been completed.”

The four-lane bridge opened in 1956 and carries about 42,000 vehicles per day across the Delaware River.

 

Delaware River Bridge Closed Due To Structural Crack

Pennsylvania Turnpike Traffic Rerouted at East Terminus

Drivers On New Jersey Turnpike’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension Also Impacted

Crack in Delaware River BridgeThe Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and New Jersey Turnpike Authority have announced the Delaware River Bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey will remain closed for as long as two weeks, and perhaps longer, while a structural assessment is performed on the span, the commission announced late Saturday.  Both agencies, which jointly own and maintain the span, decided to close the bridge Friday after a crack was discovered in one of the bridge trusses. New Jersey Turnpike officials closed the westbound lanes of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension, as well, which connects the mainline of the NJ Turnpike to the DRB.

Stabilization work continues to enhance the structure of the bridge; however, authorities announced Saturday, in a written news release, a full assessment must be completed to determine how the truss defect has impacted the remainder of the bridge structure. “Due to the significant fracture, stresses have been redistributed to other parts of the bridge,” said PA Turnpike Chief Engineer Brad Heigel. “We regret the inconvenience of closing the bridge, however, it is necessary to properly evaluate the bridge’s current condition and determine next steps to ensure the safety to our customers.”

Site of crack on Delaware River Bridge

Location of the crack on The Delaware River Bridge, which connects the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike. Officials closed the bridge Friday, January 20, after a crack was discovered in the span. It will remain closed at least two weeks, officials announced Saturday. Photo: PA Turnpike Commission.

Authorities said the two-week assessment may take longer, depending on what authorities are able to learn. “Until more is understood about the damage, it is not possible to estimate how many days or weeks the bridge will need to be closed while the permanent fix is made,” officials wrote.

Officials with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority released an advisory that notified media and the public the repair of the structure will involve the construction of eight towers to help temporarily support the weight of the bridge. “Jacks will be used to attempt to lift the structure back into its original position,” the NJ Turnpike Authority announced in its advisory. “Sensors will be installed to enable engineers to monitor the load at key points on the structure.”

The fracture was discovered on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River Bridge during a routine check of the span by a painting crew on Friday.

The 1.2-mile span opened in 1956. About 42-thousand vehicles cross the span each day, according to officials with the agencies.

Eastbound Detour (Pennsylvania to New Jersey)

PA Turnpike motorists heading east into New Jersey should use this revised alternate route: Exit at the Bensalem Interchange, #351 in Bucks County. Follow U.S. Route 1 north, to I-95 north, to I-295, south, to I-195 east. Take Exit 6 on I-195, and reenter the NJ Turnpike. Source: PA Turnpike Commission.

Westbound Detour (New Jersey to Pennsylvania)

NJTP drivers heading west into Pennsylvania will need to use either Interstate 78, Interstate 295, or the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. Source: New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

2017 Toll Increases Impact Multiple States

Many Agencies Raising Tolls For Capital Improvement Projects

Road Widening and Technology Upgrades Lead Lists

Drivers across many of the nation’s toll roads will find themselves pitching more change into the basket as they pass barriers in 2017, as a number of states’ tolling agencies announced they are preparing to raise costs. Pennsylvania’s Turnpike Commission announced its rate increase in July, via an online news release. The Ohio Turnpike Commission began raising rates in 2013, and the commission has already published Ohio’s annual rate increases on its website through 2023. Illinois announced its rate increase for 2017 early in 2016.

DOWNLOAD 2017 TOLL BOOKS

Oklahoma Toll exhibit from NewsOK.com. Illinois Tollway rate card from Illinois Tollway. Ohio Turnpike toll rates from The Ohio Turnpike Commission. Pennsylvania Turnpike rates from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

In making its announcement for 2017, the PA Turnpike Commission said its toll increases were necessary to fund a “10-year spending plan which invests more than $5.77-billion” into the turnpike system. Part of that plan, the commission said, includes road widening and reconstruction projects.

The Ohio Turnpike Commission issued a proclamation, in 2013, that stated, in part, “[T]oll rate increases are needed to pay any increased operating costs over the next ten years, as well as increases in debt service payments required because of the issuance of Turnpike Revenue Bonds.”

Illinois Tollway construction

Road work on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, in April 2016.

Meanwhile, Illinois has been on a massive technology and infrastructure improvement plan that, this year, included a major upgrade of the Jane Addams Memorial Highway, in addition to improvements on other toll roads of the Illinois Tollway system. The current set of price increases is due to impact primarily truckers. New all-electronic tolling systems are also set to become operational Illinois’ Route 390 later in 2017, according to the state’s official toll website.

Different Dates For Toll Rate Hikes From State To State

Not all 2017 increases are happening on New Year’s Day. While Illinois and Ohio are hiking rates on January 1, Pennsylvania is giving drivers a one-week grace period, of sorts. Penna rates will go up on January 8.

However, not all 2017 toll rate increases have been finalized, and not all state toll agencies know whether they plan to raise rates.

Some Toll Adjustments In Some States Still Uncertain

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority had planned a 12% toll increase that would take effect January 1, but a challenge to the bond issue the increase would fund has put the precise date, and the increase, in doubt, said Jack Damrill, the authority’s Director of Communications and Facilities.

However, Mr. Damrill sounded confident Oklahoma’s tolls would be adjusted in the coming year, regardless of the state’s Supreme Court case. “There is a good possibility the toll increase could be put on hold until the outcome of the litigation,” he wrote in an email, adding, “In short, our tolls will be changing sometime in 2017.”

Chad Huff, with Florida’s Department of Transportation, said authorities in that state were unsure about any toll increase on Florida’s Turnpike in 2017, even though the state’s legislature has authorized the agency to raise rates to keep up with U.S. Consumer Price Index, a process the state calls “toll indexing.” Huff said Florida’s toll agency would review the potential for a 2017 increase well after the start of the year, suggesting a decision may be made early in the second quarter of 2017. “Our toll rates are evaluated in the Spring, for possible implementation in the Summer,” Huff wrote TurnpikeInfo.com. “Best to check back in April.” Florida typically raises rates in July, although there were no increases in 2016.

Indiana, Massachusetts Hike Rates In 2016

Indiana Toll Road eastbound

The Indiana Toll Road, pictured above, recently underwent a major resurfacing that finally forced the state’s concession company to raise rates in July of 2016.

Some states have already raised rates ahead of the coming new year. Tolls across Indiana went up July 1, after an announcement by the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, a private-sector company contracted to run the state’s 157-mile toll highway. The ITR connects to the Chicago Skyway on the west end and to the Ohio Turnpike at the east gate. The ITRCC announced the hike only two months before it officially took effect.

In Massachusetts, the residents and visitors traveling the Massachusetts Turnpike were introduced to new tolls on October 28, 2016, along with a new all-electronic toll system that no longer accepts cash. The Mass Pike, as it is known colloquially, connects to the New York State Thruway on the west end of the state, and to Boston and Logan International Airport in the east.

No Toll Increases For New Jersey, New York

Neither the New Jersey Turnpike nor the Garden State Parkway were due for a toll increase in the coming year, said Thomas Feeney, with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

In New York, a spokeswoman at the New York State Thruway press office said Governor Andrew Cuomo had frozen future toll increases until after 2020.

 

Service Plazas Opened On Florida’s Turnpike

Gas Stations Operational And Food Available

Tolls Remain Suspended Until At Least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9

The service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike are all operational in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, according to a staff member at the Turkey Lake service plaza. The plazas had been closed as the storm roiled offshore Thursday and Friday, sending wave upon wave of feeder bands across the peninusla. The Florida Department of Transportation, under orders from the governor’s office, had closed all plazas in order to protect staff.

The plazas began reopening in South Florida Friday afternoon, and all are now operational, with the threat of Matthew now passed.

Meanwhile, tolls remain suspended across Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll facilities, including Orlando’s toll roads and those in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. While the free ride may be saving money, traffic congestion is occasionally up at some toll plazas, where officials are directing traffic into just a few lanes. The governor’s office released a statement late Sunday afternoon stating tolls would remain suspended until at least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9. However, regional tolling agencies were reviewing their toll status on a county by county basis.

Leesburg Toll Plaza

A southbound view of the Leesburg toll plaza on October 9, 2016, as drivers are pushed to the left-most lanes to accommodate toll suspensions. It was unclear Sunday when tolls would be reinstated on the Florida’s Turnpike. Image from Florida Department of Transportation.

Elsewhere, officials will be examining constructions sites in the coming days on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads to determine whether it is safe to resume maintenance and new construction operations. When that process is complete, construction restrictions will resume.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. to include the governor’s office’s latest statement on the status of tolls on Florida’s Turnpike.

Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida’s Turnpike

Governor Surveys Damage From Hurricane Matthew

No Statement Issued About Service Plazas Reopening As Gas Supplies Disrupted

Governor Rick Scott presser in Volusia County

Governor Rick Scott briefs media this morning in Volusia County.

Tolls remain suspended this afternoon on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads, including those in metropolitan Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The service plazas on the turnpike remain closed in the most heavily-damaged areas, with only South Florida’s service plazas operational late Saturday afternoon.

As Hurricane Matthew weakens off the coast of the Carolinas, it remains unclear how quickly service plazas will reopen. This could be trouble for drivers who normally depend upon the fuel and other services provided at plazas. Fuel supplies at retail locations at various exits are likely to suffer some, as ports across the northeastern coast have been shut down due to Matthew.

The governor’s office, in its regular written afternoon briefing, said those ports are beginning to reopen. The governor’s office also assured residents and tourists officials were closely monitoring supply chain and distribution channels. “The state is monitoring for supply, distribution or retail fuel shortages or issues, specifically for isolated incidents of individual retailers experiencing temporary fuel shortages,” the governor’s press office wrote. “These individual retailers are being quickly refueled, and fuel is readily available across Florida.”

Officials at the Florida Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for further information about the service plazas or tolling.

 

Florida Governor Tours Cities Ravaged By Matthew

Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida Toll Roads, Including Florida’s Turnpike

Some Service Plazas Reopened In South Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott tours Cocoa after Hurricane Matthew

Florida Governor Rick Scott is accompanied by local and state law enforcement and national guard troops as he tours Cocoa, one of the towns impacted by Hurricane Matthew’s tango with Florida’s east coast.

Florida Governor Rick Scott toured storm-ravaged cities and counties in Florida this afternoon as the damage assessments following Hurricane Matthew’s visit to the state began in earnest. The governor met by telephone with mayors of dozens of cities this morning and again this afternoon, also paying personal visits to coastal communities, including the town of Cocoa, which is at the eastern terminus of the Beachline Expressway.

Tolls on the Beachline Expressway and all other regional toll roads, as well as Florida’s Turnpike, remain suspended this evening, the governor’s office announced in a statement released early Friday night. Some county tolling facilities may reinstate tolls as early as Saturday as officials examine the potential for putting toll workers back on the road. “All toll suspensions remain in effect and will remain suspended for at least 24 hours,” the statement read. “After the storm passes, county DOT officials will review this on a case by case basis.”

Meanwhile, three service plazas on the Florida’s Turnpike reopened in South Florida earlier in the day Friday, after conditions borne of the monster hurricane had largely passed from the region. Engineering assessments determined none of the buildings had suffered any structural damage that could be potentially harmful or life-threatening. All services plazas from West Palm Beach and south were open Friday night. Service plazas north of West Palm Beach remain closed, including two in the metro Orlando area, the Canoe Creek and Turkey Lake plazas.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-07 8PM EDT

As for Hurricane Matthew, itself, the storm has been downgraded to a powerful category 2 system, which is sending strong storm surges and high winds across the very northeastern edge of Florida and across coastal Georgia. The storm is expected to turn east into the Atlantic over the weekend, then turn south once more to head toward the Bahamas for a second time.

South Florida Service Plazas Reopen On Florida’s Turnpike

Florida's TurnpikeThe Florida Highway Patrol is reporting at this hour that three service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike have reopened. With Hurricane Matthew’s influence significantly diminished in the South Florida area, officials have reopened the Snapper Creek Service Plaza on the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike. The Pompano Beach Service Plaza and the West Palm Beach Service Plaza are also reopened at this time.

Authorities originally closed the plazas in stages Thursday afternoon. The remaining plazas, all of which are in areas still being whipped by Hurricane Matthew, will be closed until after the storm passes and engineers have determined the buildings are structurally safe.

Florida’s Turnpike, Orlando Still Whipped By Hurricane Feeder Bands

Hurricane Matthew, Just Offshore, Pulling Energy Over Central Florida

Turnpike Service Plazas Remain Closed At This Hour; Tolls Still Suspended

Hurricane Matthew continues is sea-bound spiral up Florida’s east coast this morning, after narrowly missing South Florida Thursday and Thursday night. The storm remains a category 3 monster, and forecasters expect the system will continue to spin along the coast on a northwesterly trek, before eventually turning overnight and into the weekend to run along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.

NWS Weather Radar Melbourne - Hurricane Matthew 2016-10-17

Weather radar on the National Weather Service website shows lingering feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew continuing to influence Florida’s Turnpike weather, even as the storm has remained offshore.

The Central Florida Expressway Authority announced on their Twitter feed this morning that the Florida governor’s office had ordered tolls to remain suspended. That order will affect all toll roads in Florida, not just those operated by CFX.

CFX, which operates regional toll roads around Orlando's metropolitan area, announced on their twitter feed that the Florida governor's office had ordered tolls remain suspended on toll roads, which includes Florida's Turnpike.

CFX, which operates regional toll roads around Orlando’s metropolitan area, announced on their twitter feed that the Florida governor’s office had ordered tolls remain suspended on toll roads, which includes Florida’s Turnpike.

Meanwhile, service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike remain closed this morning as feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew continue to pelt Orlando and Central Florida, areas where people have already endured nearly 24 hours of incessant tropical whiplash. Even as Matthew was over the Bahamas, weather radar showed a steady onslaught of tropical energy flowing from the Atlantic over the central peninsula.

The danger posed by Matthew forced Disney World to close at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The park remains closed today. Sea World, Universal Orlando, and other Orlando tourist destinations, most near or close to Florida’s Turnpike, are also closed. For Disney World, the closure is only the fourth time in its history, according to Mashable, that the theme park has closed. All closures were due to hurricanes, and all have happened since 1999.

Officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have said they will reopen the service plazas along the turnpike only after Matthew has passed, and only when engineers have verified the structural integrity of any building that have been awash in Matthew’s massive wind field. “All Turnpike Service Plazas will re-open after Matthew passes and all the structures are deemed safe for operation and occupation,” officials said in a written statement.