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Call it the $350 million question.
Over the next six weeks, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will try to decide whether to rehabilitate its five sets of tunnels one at a time over 10 to 15 years or enter into a public-private partnership with one firm that would do all of the work in five to six years and be responsible for maintenance for about 30 years.
Part - Money - Cost - Agency - Partnership
And the $350 million is key because a large part of that money would be the upfront cost if the agency decides to pursue a partnership, said Brad Heigel, the turnpike’s chief engineer. Mr. Heigel said the agency is doing its due diligence by reviewing the partnership idea.
“This is technologically very intriguing to me,” Mr. Heigel said. “The question becomes whether we do them all at once through a partnership or one off at a time until we’re done.
Partnership - Kind - Idea - Aspects
“[The partnership is] kind of a neat idea. It has to be affordable. I’m just concerned about the financial aspects of it.”
The turnpike has four sets of tunnels that date back to its original construction in the 1930s and ’40s: Allegheny, 6,050 feet long in Somerset County; Tuscarora, 1.1 mile long at the Huntingdon-Franklin County line; Kittatinny, 4,727 feet long in Franklin County; and Blue Mountain, 4,339 feet long and 600 feet from Kittatinny in Franklin County.
Lehigh - Tunnel - Northeast - Extension - Feet
The Lehigh Tunnel on the Northeast Extension is 4,380 feet long and opened on the Lehigh-Carbon County border in 1957.
Mr. Heigel said the tunnels generally are “very sound” structurally but all of them need interior tile work as well as modernization of their electrical, HVAC and water systems. The commission spends about $1 million per set of tunnels annually for operations and maintenance, plus the cost of an inspection every other year.
Partnership - Turnpike - Radar - Company
A partnership wasn’t on the turnpike’s radar until a private company submitted...
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