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New Fiber Optic Network to Boost Connectivity, Support Safety and Mobility along the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission selects Black & Veatch for dual-purpose upgrade that will benefit motorists, create fiber and conduit leasing options along well-travelled highway.

Black & Veatch, a market-leading designer and builder of high-speed fiber networks, has been chosen by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) to install a new fiber optic network along more than 200 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (PA Turnpike). 

When completed, the network will boost connectivity between the PTC’s administrative buildings and support All-Electronic Tolling (AET), and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for safety and mobility along this heavily travelled highway. It will also prepare the Turnpike to support emerging technologies for smart roadways and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs).

Black & Veatch was awarded two contracts to develop the first and second phases of the Turnpike’s network upgrade, which will also provide the PTC with a revenue-generating opportunity by installing extra fiber and conduits for commercialization it can lease to outside organizations.

The first phase involves a $44.7 million fiber optic design-build stretching from Harrisburg to the Delaware River Bridge. The $49.7 million second phase of the upgrade is planned for PTC’s Northeastern Extension connecting Philadelphia, Allentown and Scranton. These projects will provide high speed data communications at the roadway where it is needed, supporting the Open Road Tolling initiative (gantries above the roadway) and the ITS program, positioning the Turnpike to meet its communication needs of the future.  

“The PA Turnpike Commission sought a qualified partner that could bring an innovative, viable and affordable solution,” said Paul Pishal, Sales Director in the Telecom Division of Black & Veatch. “Our engineering team was able to submit a design that was a perfect fit for both Pennsylvania’s unique topography as well as the PTC’s goals for a high-speed data network to ensure robust connectivity across the Turnpike.”

Led by Black & Veatch Construction, Inc., fiber will be installed using a process known as microtrenching, which overcomes the challenges of the Turnpike’s often rocky topography by installing the line within the roadway’s shoulder. The process allows for a quicker installation and helps minimize impacts to Turnpike customers. 

“Amping up data capabilities on the PA Turnpike is necessary to prepare for AET and intelligent transportation and CAV systems,” said Neil Raup, Manager of Total Reconstruction Programs for the PA Turnpike. “Fiber optic infrastructure is an essential element.”

The upgraded network will meet the PTC’s connectivity needs for its office structures, maintenance sheds, service plazas, traffic cameras, and all roadside loT/ITS. The network’s high capacity will also create space the PTC plans to lease to outside organizations, such as cellular network providers, or other groups seeking high-speed broadband – proving that such network infrastructure can deliver parallel benefits that reduce the impacts of initial infrastructure investments. Cities and governing agencies are increasingly seeking creative, dual-purpose projects to answer the challenges posed by capital costs.

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About Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company with a more than 100-year track record of innovation in sustainable infrastructure. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries by addressing the resilience and reliability of our world's most important infrastructure assets. Our revenues in 2018 were US$3.5 billion. Follow us on www.bv.com and on social media.

About the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

The PA Turnpike will celebrate 80 years of operations in October, and over those eight decades it has received nationwide acclaim as an engineering marvel. The Turnpike established the national standard for superhighway design and construction more than 16 years before the first U.S. interstate highway. When America’s first super-highway opened on Oct. 1, 1940, the Turnpike ran 160 miles between Irwin, PA and Carlisle, PA. Visit paturnpike.com to learn more.

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