Suburban renewal: Pa Turnpike will spend $480M to add lanes Valley Forge-Downingtown

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(Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has taken a step toward spending $480 million to widen the toll road through eastern Chester County over nine years of construction, with the award of a $17.1 million contract to oversee work adding a third lane eastbound, and a third lane westbound, between the Vally Forge and Downingtown exists. The construction management contract goes to Hill International, Marlton, N.J., Hill spokesman John Paolin confirmed.

UPDATE: Timetable for major construction: Valley Forge to PA 29 starts next year and runs to 2017; west to Downingtown work will run 2018-2020. More at Inquirer.com here.

EARLIER: Local officials have applauded these Turnpike improvement projects as a spur to renewed suburban development, which had collapsed since the 2008 financial crisis. Officials in Tredyffrin Township and other aging Chester County communities hope a faster Turnpike will make their communities attractive for the new wave of office-retail-residential developments that has been replacing older office-only complexes. Construction will also benefit Liberty Property Trust and other suburban landlords.

According to a Hill statement: "Under the contract, Hill will be providing services during design and construction of Turnpike roadway and bridge reconstruction projects between Downingtown (milepost 312) and Valley Forge (milepost 326) in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

"Reconstruction of this section is anticipated to include two roadway construction contracts and two early action bridge replacement contracts for a total cost of approximately $480 million."

Contractors will remove layers of concrete, asphalt and rock, "replacing it with an entirely new roadway to include new bridges, median barriers, guide rail, noise and retention walls and drainage."

The Commission has also been expanding the Northeast Extension (I-476) in Montgomery County between Plymouth Meeting and Lansdale.

But the Turnpike, with its cash pledged to fix other Pennsylvania roads, has struggled to raise cash to finance improvements.

Isn't nine years of construction rerouting and related hassle -- and more than $30 million a mile -- a long time and a lot to pay for road improvements?

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