C O M M I S S I O N N E W S R E L E A S E
PA. TURNPIKE/INTERSTATE 95 INTERCHANGE RECEIVES FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVAL
‘Record of Decision' Allows Project to Shift into Design Phase
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Jan. 6, 2004) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today announced that the long-awaited PA Turnpike/I-95 Interchange project has received federal environmental approval. Completion of this crucial step allows the project to proceed to the design phase — and ultimately into construction.
The I-95 Interchange project's preferred alternative, identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, was approved as the selected alternative in a “Record of Decision,” an official document issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
FHWA's selected alternative for the PA Turnpike/I-95 Interchange was chosen because it appropriately addresses project needs, engineering parameters and public and government agency input. Most importantly, the approved alternative has the least amount of environmental and community impacts compared to other alternatives.
“We are pleased with the selected alternative and believe it achieves the desired results for the much-anticipated PA Turnpike/I-95 Interchange Project,” said Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier. “We're looking forward to this project that brings significant regional benefits by directly connecting Interstate 95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276). Construction of this interchange — and the rerouting of I-95 onto the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes — will resolve I-95's missing link north of this project area.”
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the I-95 Interchange project documents the preferred alternative and evaluates the project's various design alternatives and their potential impacts. Last summer, the FEIS was made available for public and government agency comments. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission received 66 comments on the FEIS that the Federal Highway Administration considered in preparing its Record of Decision.
The objectives for the Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 Interchange include connecting the two highways, reducing congestion on local Bucks County roadways currently used to make the connection and completing the missing link to make I-95 continuous through the Mid-Atlantic Region. The connection requires building a high-speed interchange that directly connects the Turnpike and Interstate 95 in Bucks County, a new mainline toll plaza and an additional bridge over the Delaware River parallel to the existing bridge.
Construction costs for this massive undertaking are estimated at $640 million.
“This project will have a number of positive regional and national implications,” said Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman Mitchell Rubin. “It will make access to the city much easier; and it will improve the flow of traffic in the Philadelphia region and along the entire east coast. It will also increase economic development by serving the region's businesses, ports and transportation industry, especially its commercial carriers.”
According to an economic-impact study, the Turnpike/I-95 link will provide jobs for Bucks County and spur economic growth for the entire Delaware Valley. The independent study estimated that construction would support 300 jobs annually in Bucks County while project-related spending would exceed $560 million in business sales and personal income in Bucks County just during construction. Long-term benefits would come from improved connections to regional markets, enhancing the office-market attractiveness and providing motorists travel cost savings. The study indicated that these factors could create 3,000 new jobs and $500 million in business sales and personal income in Bucks County by 2025 in addition to supplying the stimulus needed for economic revitalization in Lower Bucks County.
The Record of Decision clears the way for the Turnpike to request authorization of federal funds programmed for the project's design and construction.
“During these next two critical project phases, the Turnpike Commission will continue to reach out to state and local agencies, elected officials and the public for input,” Brimmeier said.
A design manager will establish a field office in the area to coordinate design, environmental monitoring and public involvement activities. Until the new office is open, KCI Technologies office at 3220 Tillman Drive (Suite 104) in Bensalem will continue in its current role. For project information or to learn where to review the FEIS, visit www.paturnpike.com/i95
P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676 Phone: (717) 939-9551 Fax: (717) 986-9649