Bridge Replacement Leaves Old York Road Bridge Closed For Six Months

The Old York Road Bridge over The Pennsylvania Turnpike is closed until October 2013 while construction crews replace the old span, originally constructed in the 1950’s. The bridge is being extended to accommodate extra lanes of traffic on the Penna Turnpike, which will be widened from four to six lanes of traffic through Harrisburg beginning in 2014.

The entire span of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is being rebuilt to upgrade travel lanes, add travel lanes and upgrade the roadway to newer construction standards. The Old York Road bridge was built in the 1950’s, and many sections of Pennsylvania’s turnpike were also constructed at that time.

The project will affect traffic primarily on Old York Road, although the bridge tear-down and rebuild will occassionally result in traffic impacts on the turnpike, itself, between mile posts 242 and 245, which is between the Harrisburg East and Harrisburg West exits.

Marsh Run Road
The Marsh Run Road bridge is one of two bridge spans currently being retrofitted or replaced over the Penna Turnpike in Harrisburg.

Another bridge span in the Harrisburg area, Marsh Run Road, is also being retrofitted for the turnpike widening project, but closures are not planned. Marsh Run Road construction has been ongoing for several weeks already.
For commuters who regularly use the Old York Road bridge, traffic will be detoured to I-83 for the next six months while the project continues.

Construction Slows Traffic Along Florida’s Turnpike in South Florida

A series of construction projects, minor to major, continue to impact traffic flow along Florida’s Turnpike in South Florida, with lane closures in Palm Beach County to an interchange reconstruction project in Broward County, where the turnpike meets I-595. For the Palm Beach County project, a bridge replacement is underway at the Jupiter-Indiantown exit, at mile marker 116, where one lane of traffic in each direction will be closed through this Thursday, April 11. The lane closures will affect traffic during overnight hours, from 10 PM to 5 AM. Further south, one lane of traffic in each direction will be closed between mile markers 102 and 104 for roadway resurfacing.

I-595 - Florida's Turnpike Construction
Major interchange improvements in Broward County are causing numerous delays for drivers on Florida’s Turnpike.

In Broward County, a major widening project of the I-595 corridor, from Fort Lauderdale west to Plantation and Sunrise, continues to impact traffic between mile markers 53 and 55, affecting traffic traveling south the Sunrise Boulevard exit until well past the Griffin Road exit. Florida’s Department of Transportation and county construction crews have been widening I-595, and the widening project includes a major redesign of the interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, which is also adjacent to the US 441 Interchange and the University Drive exits, all which fall within the space of one-and-a-half miles of each other.

Part of the construction on the I-595 interchange includes adding new lanes on the Florida’s Turnpike, itself, where construction has been ongoing since 2010. In addition to the new lanes of traffic in the northbound and southbound directions on the turnpike, there will also be new toll plaza lanes added to accommodate traffic directly connecting to the turnpike from I-595.

Florida’s DOT has issued a series of lane closure statements for the I-595 and Turnpike interchange, which includes the following current updates:

  • One lane of westbound I-595 between the Florida’s Turnpike overpass and Davie Road will be closed nightly from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and two lanes will be closed nightly from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Wednesday, April 10 and ending Friday, April 12.
  • One lane of the ramp from I-595 to southbound Florida’s Turnpike will be closed from 6 a.m. Saturday, April 6 to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 7 and nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, April 8 and ending Friday, April 12.
  • One lane of the ramp from Florida’s Turnpike to I-595 / SR 84 / SR 7 will be closed nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Sunday, April 7 and ending Tuesday, April 9.
  • One lane of the ramp from southbound Florida’s Turnpike to I-595 / SR 84/ SR 7 will be closed nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, April 8 and ending Friday, April 12.
  • One lane of southbound Florida’s Turnpike between Sunrise Boulevard and I-595 interchange will be closed nightly from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and two lanes will be closed nightly from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Sunday, April 7 and ending Tuesday, April 9.
  • One lane of Florida’s Turnpike, in each direction, at the I-595 interchange will be closed nightly from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and two lanes of southbound Florida’s Turnpike will be closed nightly from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, April 8 and ending Friday, April 12.
  • Two lanes of Florida’s Turnpike, in each direction, between Griffin Road and Sterling Road will be closed nightly from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. beginning Monday, April 8 and ending Friday, April 12.
  • One lane of the ramp from northbound Florida’s Turnpike to I-595 / SR 84/ SR 7 will be closed nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, April 8 and ending Friday, April 12.

Sawgrass Expressway Northbound Closes Overnight This Week

Sawgrass Expy Sign
The Sawgrass Expressway in Broward County, Florida, will be the site of overnight lane closures this week.

All northbound lanes of the Sawgrass Expressway, a toll road in Broward County, Florida, will be closing between the I-75 interchange and Sunrise Boulevard, near the BB&T Center. The lane closures will affect only the northbound traffic, and those closures will only be during the overnight hours, between 11:45 PM and 4 AM. The lane closures will be in effect through Thursday, April 11.

The Florida Department of Transportation and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise are installing new sign support systems on those lanes, and that will require all traffic to be diverted to 136th Avenue. Traffic exiting from I-595 westbound or I-75 southbound and going north on the Sawgrass Expy. will be directed north to Sunrise Boulevard, using 136th. From Sunrise Boulevard, travelers will then be able to return to the Sawgrass Expressway and continue north to the towns of Tamarac, Coral Springs and Pompano Beach, at the north/east end of the Sawgrass Expressway, which connects with Florida’s Turnpike mainline.

No Fooling! Gas Prices Continue To Slide Lower

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Weekly gas price survey

Gasoline prices continued their decline in nearly all markets of the United States this week, as the Energy Information Administration reported in its latest weekly survey of fuel costs. The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas dipped by over 3-cents per gallon, with pricess falling by 6-cents per gallon in the Midwest, the one region that has, until now, bucked the trend of declining gas prices.

The only region of the USA that did not enjoy a decline in gas prices was the Rocky Mountain States, where the average per-gallon cost of gas went up by about 3-cents, the opposite of the national trend.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

Meanwhile, diesel costs were down nearly across the board, with all markets showing a slight decline in the cost of diesel prices. The only place where diesel costs increase was in California, which drove the overall West Coast costs of diesel fuel higher. Take away the California price increases, and the overall West Coast price of diesel declined in line with the U.S. petroleum trend.


Gas Prices Still Falling, Except In Midwest. Oil Futures Heading Higher.

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Weekly gas price survey

Gasoline prices across the United States continued their downward slide for the fourth consecutive week this week, according to the latest weekly EIA gas price survey. However, the Midwest bucked the trend of lower gasoline prices, just as happened last week, as reflected in the March 18 survey.

The average price for a gallon of gas will set drivers back about $3.68, on average, although the prices are considerably higher on the West Coast of the U.S., where the avarage price for a gallon of regular unleaded is running just under $4.00. The cheapest gas was to be found in the Rocky Mountains the Gulf Coast. In the mountain regions, the price of gas was about $3.47, compared with about $3.50 in states along the Gulf of Mexico.

As we reported last week, the Midwest’s trend of higher prices could be an indicator of the coming trends for other U.S. regions, and the continued climb in oil futures prices would tend to lend credence to that argument. The price of oil futures, which spiked in late January and throughout February, drifted very low at the end of February and beginning of March. However, for the past two weeks, the price of crude oil has been on the uptick, although prices were unchangted today. However, futures of Brent light sweet crude were up $0.52 today.

CNBC Oil Futures trend chart.
Crude oil futures took a nosedive in late February, contributing to March’s lower gas prices; however, the futures trades are trending higher again. Chart courtesy of

For truckers, the news was a little better across the board. On average, diesel prices were off by about 4¢ per gallon across the United States, with prices along the Gulf and West Coasts dropping by as much as 6¢ per gallon.


Three Weeks Is A Charmer! Gas Prices Fall Again, But Is That About To Change?

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Weekly gas price survey

Drivers across most states have enjoyed three consecutive weeks of declines in gas prices, according to the latest survey released from the Energy Informtion Administration; however, the Midwestern U.S. witnessed an increase in gas prices during the past week. While the Midwestern increase in fuel costs was moderate, about three cents per gallon, the price of fuel across the American Heartland is has been a seasonal indicator of where all U.S. gas prices are likely to trend  within the next one to two weeks. In other words, the cost relief drivers and truckers have had during March may be about to end.

For the moment, however, the March decline in the cost for a gallon of gas has been well timed to help students on Spring Break, many of whom are traveling to warmer climates to escape colder conditions in the northern states. In fact, Prices across the Lower Atlantic  and Gulf Coast states were among the lowest in the nation, although the Rocky Mountain region enjoyed the absolute lowest average per-gallon cost on regular unleaded.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

Meanwhile, the transportation and freight industries were enjoying the declines in fuel costs, with diesel fuel continuing to fall in price in all regions of the U.S. On average, the price of a gallon of diesel was down about four cents per gallon during the past week.

Regardless of what the price increase in the Midwest may portend, the overall price of gas, nationwide, is down considerably from a year ago, with average per-gallon costs lower by just over 17-cents per gallon for gasoline, and diesel prices down by nationwide average of about 10-cents per gallon.


Eight People Charged With Crimes Relating To Pennsylvania Turnpike Contracts

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
PTC headquarters building in Harrisburg, Pennslvyania, as seen from the westbound lanes near Exit 247.

A former leader of the Pennsylvania State Senate and seven other people have been charged with crimes related to vendor contracts and other key relationship contracts with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The eight are charged with a variety of crimes, including conspiracy, commercial bribery, bid rigging, theft and conflict of interest. The charges and investigation were unveiled March 13 in Harrisburg, the home of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority’s main offices, which can be seen from the turnpike, itself. One of the people charged in the long-running investigation and criminal case is from Florida, although there was no indication any of the criminal activity was related to Florida’s Turnpike.

The defendants include former Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow, the former chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Mitchell Rubin, and the former chief executive of the Penna Turnpike, Joe Brimmeier. Raymond Zajicek of Tarpon Springs, Florida, was the the only person charged who was not from Pennsylvania. The remaining defendants include two turnpike vendors, Dennis Miller and Jeffrey Suzenski, and two other former turnpike officials: George Hatalowich, Melvin Shelton. Mr. Zajicek, of Florida, was also once a turnpike official in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said the defendants’ indictments were the result of a long-running probe dating to 2009. Kane was quoted in the Associated Press as saying, “The public has lost untold millions of dollars. The greatest improper influence was exerted over the turnpike’s procurement process.”

Indeed, the way the turnpike chose vendors may have been directed by the former Senate Democratic Leader. Kane said a grand jury found “substantial evidence” Mr. Mellow had directed at least one aide to help political contributors get contracts for work on the turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission released a statement calling the charges indefensible. “If charges against former [Pennsylvania] Turnpike employees are proven,” the statement reads, “we certainly cannot … defend that.

“Without a doubt, the commission remains committed to continuing our efforts to improve the accountability and operations of the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” the statement continues.

Drivers in Pennsylvania who commented on the news story, at least on the Internet, were quite mixed. One man said he would protest “as a statement against corruption” by staying off the turnpike.

Others offered positive feedback about the diligence of the attorney general’s office in helping expose the alleged criminal activity.


Editor's note: This story has been modified from its original version, which misidentified the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority.

Gas Prices Dip Slightly As Spring Break Drivers Hit The Road

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Weekly gas price survey

Gas prices continued their declines into a second week this week as millions more college and university students hit the road for Spring Break, with the largest number of vacationers taking off from major universities during this week and the next two weeks. According to the weekly survey from the Energy Information Administration, the average price of a gallon of gas dropped by about a nickel, but the declines were much higher across the Midwest, where winter prices had suffered their greatest increases during January and February. Only the U.S. West Coast suffered a hike in prices, with average per-gallon costs for gasoline driving upward by about a penny.

March 11, 2013 gas prices
In most U.S. regions, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded is below $4.00 per gallon, although in some areas, just  barely.

The weekly declines mark the second time prices have gone down in as many weeks, and declines have now reached the point that prices, overall, are down from last year at this time. Year over year fuel costs have dropped by as much as 19-cents per gallon in some spots, with the average March gas price being about 12-cents per gallon this year, versus the same week in 2012.

Diesel fuel costs also continued their weekly downward trend, although the declines were not as steep as gas prices. Average prices-per-gallon for diesel dropped by about four-cents nationwide, while across New England down to the Carolinas the average price was down about six-cents per gallon.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

Like gasoline, diesel prices are now less than they were at this time last year, although the greatest  year-over-year decline were to be found on the West Coast, where prices were down over 19-cents per gallon, versus the same survey period in 2012.

Still, the declines in gas prices are not yet enough to make up for the Winter pricing hikes that drivers suffered during January and February. Overall, average U.S. prices for a gallon of gas are up about 40-cents per gallon since the beginning of 2013.


Does A Spring Break From Gas Prices Loom?

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Weekly gas price survey

March usually means the arrival of Spring Break, but it could also herald a momentary break from those continually rising gas prices, according to the latest gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For the first time in several weeks, the average per-gallon cost of a gallon of gas actually declined, although there was no such relief in the Rocky Mountain states or the U.S. West Coast.

Still, the week-over-week dip in fuel costs could not have come at a better time for many living along the Eastern seaboard and in the Midwestern states, where blasts of cold air have pushed up energy consumption. The average price for a gallon of gas dropped by about 2 ½-cents per gallon, but prices fell by nearly twice that rate on the Gulf Coast and Lower Atlantic States.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

The relief was extended to truckers and fleet drivers, too, as diesel fuel prcies dropped about 3¢ per gallon during the past week. In an extra line of good news, the price declines affected all regions of the United States, unlike regular petroleum prices.


Unrelenting Gas Price Increases Continue, With Deep South and West Coast Hit Hardest

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Weekly gas price survey

The spate of continuing gas price increases in the United States has continued, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly gas price survey showed the West Coast and Deep South faced the highest week-over-week price increases of the year, so far. Some areas witnessed gas prices increasing by nearly 10-cents per gallon, putting greater strain on drivers filling up at the pump.

The relentless rise in gas prices finally caused the EIA to issue a news release today explaining the causes of the rising gas prices. The EIA statement details many of the issues outlined on news last week, including the increasing cost of crude oil and the reduction of refinery capacity in the United States.

Meanwhile, one bright spot in the weekly survey was for Midwestern drivers, who have suffered higher-than-average price increases in per-gallon fuel costs since the start of the year. This week’s survey showed gasoline in the Midwest actually dropped nearly 3¢ per gallon, although prices remained over 11-cents per gallon higher than one year ago.

Diesel fuel pump icon
Weekly diesel price survey

For truckers and other drivers of diesel-powered vehicles, the price of diesel continued to increase, albeit at a slower rate than has been seen since the end of 2012. Weekly diesel averages were up less than a penny per gallon. However, compared to this time last year, diesel prices are up by about 11-cents per gallon.