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As everyone in the township should be aware, the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is currently being widened - from two lanes in each direction to three lanes. This includes a mandatory sholder on each side of the road in both directions. This construction is responsible for the expansion of the bridges where the Turnpike goes under roads like Route 202 and Walton Road and over roads like Route 73 and North Wales Road.
Thanks to great work on the part of our elected officials and to public pressure from residents and groups including WRO, the Turnpike Commission changed their plans so that they did not take homes to build retention basins.
Also, they limited the use of "partial takes" (condemnation of land but not the structure) by replacing earthen slopes with retaining walls. Additional battles were waged on the placement of sound barriers. It is our understanding that most of the highway through Whitpain will have dual sound barriers.
History of This Expansion
On March 29, 2007, the Turnpike Commission held an open house to display preliminary plans to widen the Northeast Extension from four lanes to six between Plymouth Meeting and Lansdale. Troubling was the lack of advance notice given by the Commission of the meeting (our press release, here). However, due to letter notice of the meeting by Whitpain Township, extensive TV coverage garnered by Plymouth residents and e-mail notice to our members, the meeting was well attended.
Under the first widening proposal, approximately nine homeowners will lose their entire property and an additional 200 homeowners would lose part of their property to eminent domain takings. Most of the taking was due to a need for stormwater management. The Commission had chosen a very basic stormwater management system rather than a more advanced system that would decrease the need to seize property. The PaDEP publication titled "Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Practices Manual" is available, in it's entirety, here. The chapter that describes stormwater management systems is available, here.
The original plan beared little resemblance to that which was negotiated with the Township over the previous years. In addition to a dramatic increase in proposed takings, promised noise barriers were not shown on the plans.
Local officials deserve credit for maintaining contact and pressure on the Turnpike Commission to resolve these issues into what we believe is a reasonable plan.