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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)
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