Tunnels Twin Tubing 1989-1991
On April 1,
1957, 47 of the remaining 73 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Northeast
Extension opened to traffic. Included in the new highway was the
4,461 foot Lehigh Tunnel, a two lane tube through the Blue Mountain.
However by 1970, concerns over the levels of traffic through the 13 year
old tunnel were growing. Throughout the 1960's the Turnpike either
twinned or bypassed the seven tunnels on the mainline system. For
over a decade, various proposals were introduced but tight economic times
did not allow for proactive construction. Finally, in 1985, Act 61
authorized new funding for the Pennsylvania Turnpike System. The
legislation approved funding for the twinning of the Lehigh Tunnels. Studies
began almost immediately and construction began early in 1989. Construction
would last for nearly two and a half years, ending with the opening of
the new facility on November 22, 1991.
32 months of construction, Bill Symons took photographs of the progress
made. He begins with an untouched south portal in 1989 to the tunnels
a few weeks before opening in the fall of 1991. The photos are another
great contribution of his to the PA Turnpike Collection at PA Road Photos.
Excavation work can be seen on this 1989
shot approaching the southern portal of the Lehigh Tunnel.
If you were heading northbound on PA
9 in 1989 you would not see much of any sign of construction work entering
the tunnel. This photo gives an excellent perspective of how the
highway narrowed to enter the tunnel.
Here is what the completed twin tubes
look like nearly 20 years later. (Doug Kerr, April 2007)
Be sure to notice the change in the hillside
from this photo in 1989 and the following two. Excavation work has
begun and the concrete superstructure is beginning to take form.
Substantial Progress can be seen by the
Autumn of 1990. A wide double yellow line is all that separates the
opposite direction of traffic entering and entering the tunnel.
The tunnel is near completion in this
Fall 1991 photo. The hillside has been landscaped and a cement slope
and retaining wall has been built. A temporary concrete barrier has
also been placed to divide the north and southbound traffic.
Return to The PA
Turnpike Collection Index
Sources & Links:
Cupper, Dan. "The Pennsylvania Turnpike:
A History. 55th Anniversary Edition." Lebanon, PA: Applied
Turnpike History @ PAHighways.com ---Jeff Kitsko
Page Created: June 29, 2003
Last Updated: April 29, 2007
© 2003-07 Adam