The long-awaited, $420 million direct connection between I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike is moving closer to reality with the approval of a $155 million section of the work.
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, which oversees federal and state funding for transportation projects in the Philadelphia region, agreed to separate the $155 million project to allow work to start in June.
The changes will finally provide an unbroken I-95 between Maine and Florida.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, when the first stage of the direct connection is completed in 2018, I-95 will be rerouted onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike east of the connection and then onto the New Jersey Turnpike. The current I-95 north of the connection will be redesignated as I-195.
Since I-95 was built through Bucks County in 1969, crossing the turnpike, motorists and truckers have complained about the lack of a direct link between the two superhighways. Drivers must exit to local roads and then enter the adjoining highway.
"I've worked on this for over a decade," said Leslie S. Richards, a Montgomery County commissioner who is the vice chair of the DVRPC. "It's been a long time coming."
But even with the completion of the first stage in 2018, the only direct connections will be from the westbound turnpike to southbound I-95, and from northbound I-95 to the eastbound turnpike.
All the other direct connections will have to wait for the still unfunded Stage 2, which is expected to begin construction in 2020.
The Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plan to put the $155 million project out for bids on April 24, with a contract to be let on June 5.
The heavily indebted Turnpike Commission is providing $54 million for the $155 million project; the rest is coming from federal coffers.