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June 07, 2018

Variable speed limits coming to I-76 between Philly, King of Prussia

Transportation Highways
Stock_Carroll - I-76 and the Schuylkill River Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

I-76 and the Schuylkill River in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and PennDOT revealed plans Thursday to embark on a major initiative to improve travel between Philadelphia and King of Prussia.

The corridor, one of the state's most heavily congested, resulted last year in three million hours of delays to local residents, according to PennDOT's analysis. The hours of lost time equated to roughly $73 million in lost productivity.

Over the next several years, PennDOT will implement a multimodal transportation plan designed to enhance travel and safety along the heavily trafficked corridor.

The first phase will include the installation of Variable Speed Limit (VSL) and Queue Warning (QW) systems on I-76 in Montgomery County.

VSL systems, responding to real-time expressway traffic and weather conditions, will display regulatory speed limits that change to optimize traffic flow and safety. QW systems will use electronic warning messages to let motorists know of significant slowdowns and reduce the likelihood of rear-end collisions.

Construction on the project will begin in July, with completion expected in summer 2019, followed by a six-month testing period.

“My administration is not only focused on improving our roadways’ condition, but also the time it takes and the experience you have while traveling on them,” Governor Wolf said. “A government that works is one that uses every available resource for maximum impact, which we’re putting into practice on this corridor.”

The initiative will also look to modernize traffic signal systems along several roadways that run near the Schuylkill Expressway, expand public transit service along SEPTA's Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail line and transform the existing shoulders on portions of I-76 to accommodate an additional or "flexible" travel lane during peak traffic hours.

PennDOT has chosen to call the multiyear plan Transform 76, partnering with stakeholders in Philadelphia, Montgomery County and other state agencies to develop a comprehensive integrated strategy.

The pending improvements come in the large context of SEPTA's plan to complete the 4.5-mile, elevated extension of the Norristown High-Speed Line to King of Prussia. A final environmental impact statement for the project is expected to be finished next year.

“We are very focused on investing in and using our technology to make travel safer and smoother,” said PennDOT secretary Leslie Richards. “This initiative is a fantastic example of how we’re wisely using funds to maximize our existing network and improve mobility in the surrounding communities.”