Skip to main content

A visit to the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike - October 2004

In October 2004, Pennsylvania Highways webmaster and friend of the blog, Jeff Kitsko, hosted a road meet centered on the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike in Breezewood.  I was fortunate to attend.  What is unique about this trip to the abandoned highway is that we actually were able to drive on the old turnpike 36 years after it was bypassed.  We also were able to walk into the offices and ventilation areas of the tunnels for a unique perspective of the old highway.  Co-blogger Doug Kerr also was at the meet and some of his photos are included below.

From the start of our trip in Breezewood and looking back towards the Breezewood Interchange and the start of the abandoned Turnpike.  (Doug Kerr)
Entrance to the western portal of Ray's Hill Tunnel.  At a length of only 2,532 feet, only one set of exhaust fans - at the eastern portal - was needed.
After exiting the tunnel, autumn traveling motorists journeyed through a chute of color towards the Sideling Hill Tunnel, then the longest in the system.
Near the western portal of Sideling Hill is this stone culvert built for the South Penn Railroad.
A look inside the Sideling Hill Tunnel.  You can see why many bikers and walkers decide to turn around and not make it to the other side. (Doug Kerr)
A view from the upstairs offices located inside the western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel.  The cars give a great demonstration of how two lanes of Turnpike traffic would merge into one entering the tunnel.
Inside the Sideling Hill Tunnel and doorway leading to upstairs. (Doug Kerr)
Graffiti is rampant inside the tunnel.  (Doug Kerr)
Looking back towards the eastern portal of Sideling Hill Tunnel, which is over 6700 feet long!
A look at the abandoned pike from near the site of the former Cove Valley Travel Plaza.

Site Navigation:
Sources & Links:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Relief Route That Wasn't: The Never Built I-70 Bypass in the Mid-Mon Valley

In June 1963, a small blurb in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read that The Westmoreland Engineering Company was awarded a $24,060 bid to study the proposed construction of Interstate 70 in Westmoreland and Washington Counties.  The study was to see what the construction and right-of-way costs "...to modernize the existing highway to Interstate requirements within eight months." (1)  This small, non-attributed, three paragraph article came less than a decade after the completion of a four lane highway that linked the Mid-Mon Valley to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This would be the start of a 15 year process to upgrade and improve Interstate 70 - a process that ultimately never produced a single foot of new highway.

This is the story, albeit brief, of the I-70 that never came about.

Background:
What is now known as Interstate70 from Washington to New Stanton began as a connecting highway for the region to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Known as the "Express Highway", construct…

A look at Pittsburgh's Saw Mill Run Boulevard

Saw Mill Run Boulevard - Pennsylvania State Route 51 - runs through the narrow Saw Mill Run Valley.  It begins at the intersection of Clairton Road and Provost Road at the City of Pittsburgh Line with Brentwood.  It ends at the West End Circle at the entrance to the West End Bridge.  A four lane highway for its the entire length, Saw Mill Run Boulevard consists of interchanges at the South Portal of the Liberty Tubes and with the Parkway West.  It is an expressway from the Parkway to the West End Circle (West End Bypass).  One of the most well known traffic tie-ups in the Pittsburgh area occurs between Maytide Street and PA 88 (Library Road) which is simply known as 'Maytide and 88.'

History:
Saw Mill Run Boulevard was part of the 1928 Allegheny County 'City Beautiful' bond issue.  The bonds resulted in the creation of Saw Mill Run, Ohio River, Allegheny River and Mosside Boulevards. (1)   After the completion of the Liberty Tunnels in 1924, Downtown Pittsburgh was offic…

The Many Failed Plans of Pittsburgh's Wabash Bridge and Tunnel

The December 27, 2004 opening of the Wabash Tunnel ended over 70 years of proposals and speculation for the use of the over 100 year old facility.  The tunnel, which is now a reversible roadway that is an alternative route for rush hour traffic, saw many failed plans during the 20th Century.  These plans included options for mass transit, converted and new bridges for vehicles, and other forms of transportation.

Brief History:
Constructed in 1902-04, the Wabash Bridge and Tunnel was planned and financed by rail mogul, Jay Gould.  Gould began his "Battle of the Wabash" with the established railroads of the city in 1890.  He would finally emerge victorious, but during that struggle, Gould would see many setbacks that would eventually result in the railroad's bankruptcy in 1908.  On October 19, 1903, when the two ends of the bridge were to be joined together over the Monongahela River, the 109' bridge collapsed; killing ten men.  Construction would resume four days later …