After a six-year hiatus, the second SEPA Road Enthusiast Meet was held today. I’d like to thank all who attended and for making the trip for the 2010 SEPA Meet, which took the record for attendance at a Pennsylvania meet from the 2003 SWPA Meet.
The 2010 SEPA Meet began as usual at 12 PM at the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery, home of the Route 113 Indian Pale Ale, on what else, PA 113 in Phoenixville. Some of the attendees did partake of the Route 113 IPA, or as PennDOT would call it, the SR 0113 Indian Pale Ale. It just might end up being the official beverage for road enthusiasts over the age of 21. The food was good as well as the conversations.
Many of the attendees brought road-related materials to peruse as well as to keep: Adam Froehlig – various state official maps from Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania; Doug Kerr – I-87 Northway maps; and H. B. Elkins – goodie bags full of Kentucky maps and other Kentucky Transportation Cabinet paraphernalia. I brought a planning map for the Keystone State’s Interstate System from the early 1960s for guests to view. In 2006, I had acquired that from eBay.
After lunch, we hopped in our cars and followed PA 23 to the first stop, which was at the Philadelphia Traffic Management Center in the PennDOT District 6-0 headquarters in King of Prussia. Thanks go to Len Pundt, who worked for PennDOT and who helped arrange the tour. The TMC, which was called the Traffic Control Center when I toured it in 2004, has been upgraded since then. Two video walls show feeds from traffic cameras around Philadelphia, as well as content from the Internet and TV. There was a bit of excitement as we were witness to an accident on the Platt Bridge, tying up traffic. Accidents seems to have become a constant with Pennsylvania meets involving a traffic management center tour.
Continuing east on PA 23, we stopped at the Schuylkill Parkway overpass just north of Bridgeport. Len described what was to have happened with that project. It would have been the eastern end of the “Goat Path” Expressway, which was to begin in Lancaster. Len provided some background on this abandoned project. One of its current uses is as a driver training course for the State Police. He explained PennDOT’s funding issues, which led to it cancelling this and numerous other expressway projects in the 1970s. One of the points he made was that cancelling these projects did initially save money. However, there is no way to build these to solve the traffic issues of the 21st Century. Right-of-way acquisition alone would be astronomically high to carve these highways through dense urbanized areas.
We bid Len adieu and took I-276/PA Turnpike eastbound to PA 309 northbound to observe some of the rehabilitation project. Work has been taking place since 2003 along the Fort Washington Expressway. As soon as joining the expressway, we experienced a vastly improved roadway from the one that had been serving commuters since it was built as a new alignment for US 309. We encountered the last remaining section to be undergoing rehabilitation heading north and exited in the construction zone at Norristown Road to go west to Bethlehem Pike. That roadway was the pre-expressway route of US 309. Traveling north to Cedar Hill Road allowed us to view the progress on the northernmost segment from an overpass.
After stopping at the overpass to see the work, we continued northeast to PA 63 then turned northwest to go to the intersection with US 202 to see the progress on the US 202 Parkway project. A new alignment is underway at PA 63 and work is taking place south along the current alignment.
We passed some of the work along US 202 as we headed back to the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery to conclude the 2010 SEPA Meet. Back at the restaurant, we said our farewells and headed to our respective destinations.