Skip to main content

Breezewood in the Fall....The Abandoned PA Turnpike

Editor's Note: Bernie Newman's Breezewood in the Fall was the first real feature that I had on my fledgling website in late 1999.  It was also one of the first online features about the abandoned turnpike and its tunnels.  From November 1999 to about 2003-04, I would receive numerous e-mails about the tunnels and accessing the old roadway as a result of Mr. Newman's work.  Today, there are numerous webpages and social media groups devoted to this abandoned stretch of highway.  

In 1968, The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission successfully completed a bypass of two tunnels - Sideling and Ray's Hill - one service plaza - Cove Valley - and nearly 13 miles of roadway.  Since then this forgotten section of road has been a destination point for turnpike enthusiasts, hikers and bicyclists, curiosity seekers, and the Turnpike Commission itself.  The abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike serves as a living history of the nearly 80 year old highway.  

The Breezewood Interchange incorporates a small segment of the old Turnpike alignment - serving as a connector route for Interstate 70 from the Turnpike to the Town of Motels.  It is just prior to the connector's interchange with US 30 that the abandoned section of the turnpike begins.

This where the former alignment of the PA Turnpike begins - just prior the ramps at the Breezewood Interchange (Bernie Newman)
The former ramps of the Breezewood Interchange.  Like nearly all turnpike interchanges, the original Breezewood interchange was of a trumpet design. (Bernie Newman)

 
What would have been the Breezewood interchange ramps going underneath the turnpike. (Bernie Newman) 

What was most likely the last of the original turnpike guardrail. (Bernie Newman)
Another view of the original interchange ramps and cement median from the former Turnpike overpass. (Bernie Newman)
Beyond the former Breezewood Interchange is 13 miles of the old turnpike.  In 2001, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission sold nearly all of the former alignment to the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy for $1.  THe Conservancy's goal was to convert the abandoned Turnpike into a bike trail.  However, in the over 15 years since that transaction there has been minimal progress towards that goal.  The Pike 2 Bike Trail is "unofficially" open and all users travel at their own risk.

Old turnpike bridge over US 30. The PTC actually painted the bridge in the 1980s, the bridge would be demolished in 2005. (Bernie Newman)
The bridge in the photo above once carried the abandoned turnpike over US 30.  The Turnpike Commission dismantled this bridge - along with a similar overpass at Pump Station Road - to eliminate the liability and expense in maintaining the two structures and also to restrict access to parts of the abandoned Turnpike still owned by the PTC.  As a result, an ad hoc parking lot off of nearby Tannery Rd. was built for trail access.

Looking East on the abandoned Turnpike towards Ray's Hill. (Bernie Newman)
The western portal of Ray's Hill Tunnel. When compared to Bill Symon's photo of this same entrance in 1981 - the 'RAYS HILL' lettering above the entrance is gone and graffiti is much more prevalent.  (Bernie Newman)
The short distance allows for you to see the "Light at the end of the tunnel".  I am guessing that the double yellow line in this photo was from a PTC paint test. (Bernie Newman)
Most likely an original streetlight near the western entrance of Ray's Hill Tunnel. (Bernie Newman)
Site Navigation:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Check the box: Interstate 495 to 87 conversion administratively approved

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials have recently approved North Carolina's application to remove the short-lived Interstate 495 and future I-495 from Raleigh to Rocky Mount.  This administrative move most likely will result in North Carolina signing Interstate 87 and Future I-87 on the entire corridor in the near future.

Approved in 2013, Interstate 495 was first signed in 2014 along US 64 from Interstate 440 in Raleigh to Interstate 540 in Knightdale.  The remaining segment of highway to Rocky Mount was signed as Future Interstate 495.  However, in 2016, North Carolina's congressional legislators were able to get language in the 2015 FAST ACT designating the US 64/US 13/US 17 corridor from Raleigh to Norfolk as an Interstate.  In 2016, the FHWA and AASHTO designated this entire corridor (including the existing Interstate and Future 495) as Interstate 87.  (NCDOT had applied for Interstate 89 along this route.)

It is currently unknown when t…

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville. 

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What is unknown (at least to…

Starrucca Viaduct

Even older than the Tunkhannock Viaduct is the Starrucca Viaduct, built in 1848. Located in the far northeastern Pennsylvania borough of Lanesboro, this impressive bridge carried the New York and Erie Railroad over a valley as well as the Starrucca Creek and is currently the oldest stone arch railroad in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1). An engineering marvel of its time, and even in today's world, the 1080 foot length, 100 foot height and 25 foot width (2) of the viaduct is simply spectacular. Using local materials such as Pennsylvania bluestone, the Starrucca Viaduct has stood the test of time.With a price estimated at $325,000 in 1848 dollars, the bridge was one of the largest and costliest stone arch railroad bridges built in America at its time (3) . However, the very material that made it expensive to build gave the Starrucca Viaduct much durabilitycompared to other viaducts built in that era.

I've happened to check out the Starrucca Viaduct on a few occasions sin…