Happy 75th Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike!

September 29, 2015

On Thursday, October 1, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will turn 75 years old.

PTC75ANNIt’s estimated that about 10,000 people traveled the turnpike in its first few days in 1940 and sent “Greetings from Pennsylvania Turnpike” postcards.

Our turnpike was one of the first superhighways in the country, and was a huge tourist attraction. Before it opened, the commute from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh took seven hours; on the turnpike, it now takes just three-and-a-half hours.

Before the turnpike opened, the only option to travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia was the Lincoln Highway. Now known as U.S. Route 30, it was a mountainous two-lane road that cut through many small municipalities along the way.

The planning for the Pennsylvania Turnpike began in 1930, and work began in 1938. Construction included the creation of seven tunnels, 300 bridges and service plazas. It took 15,000 construction workers to finish the project in just under two years.

“The Pennsylvania Turnpike modernized intrastate travel in 1940, and it’s still an integral part of our comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system in this state,” PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner said. “It will remain an invaluable asset for years to come, as the Turnpike has finished about one-fifth of the complete rebuilding program for the 550-mile highway.”


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