New Plan for the Schuylkill Will (Hopefully) Reduce Congestion and Accidents

Gridlock, accidents, tons of time added to your commute, general frustration — just par for the course in Philly for anyone traveling the Schuylkill Expressway. However, there’s good news coming out of the Transportation Department. Defying “conventional wisdom that you can’t do anything with the I-76 corridor,” Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards has suggested improvements that are slated to bring sanity back to your daily commute. With her PennDot proposal, Richards hopes to not only improve the driving experience on I-76, but also offer additional travel options.

The main area of the Schuylkill Expressway to be affected are the 12 miles at and around the roads between Route 202 and Route 1. The expressway ties the city to the Blue Route and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, connecting Philadelphia with Montgomery County. Each day, up to 200,000 vehicles in Philly and 130,000 in Montgomery County use the thoroughfare, and we all know that the steep terrain and heavy development precludes the typical solution of adding more lanes. But something has to be done. Between 2011 and 2015, the Montgomery County portion of the road has been the site of more than 2,100 crashes, six of which were fatal; 65% were rear-end wrecks – many likely due to abrupt braking.

Starting in 2017 and taking several years to complete, Richards’ plan will start with minor changes, then continue into the construction phases. Perhaps the most significant change will be the opening of approximately six miles of road shoulders during the Expressway’s busiest times. The plan also includes installation of electronic speed-limit signs that can change according to road conditions, and signs that recommend certain travel lanes and alert drivers to accidents to help prevent the need for drivers to brake suddenly.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, allowing cars and trucks to drive on the shoulder is not projected to compromise safety. Decision makers have been in talks with emergency service providers to ensure that rescue vehicles will be able to get through. Known as “hard-shoulder running,” the practice is used in several major European and U.S. cities, including I-66 in Washington. A 2013 Federal Highway Administration report shows that this technique does not statistically contribute to accidents.

In two to four years, PennDot plans to control approximately 150 traffic signals located at intersections across nine municipalities such as Ridge Ave, Route 23, Route 1 and Route 202. The idea is to coordinate traffic signals on alternative roads to attract drivers and deter them from I-76. Residents of the area can also expect the Manayunk/Norristown Line to be the recipient of some upgrades and new technology. Currently, the line accommodates more than 1.5 million trips per year, and additional cars are projected to not only increase seating capacity, but also make the train an exciting new option.

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, or if you have any questions about this topic, trust your case to the PA accident attorneys at Wapner Newman. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-LAW-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form. Let us help you.