To improve traffic flow in heavily congested areas, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said it
plans to eventually let drivers at peak times use the highway shoulders on sections of Interstates 476 and 95 in Delaware County south and west of Philadelphia.
PennDOT said the affected stretch of I-476, known locally as the Blue Route, is in both the northbound and southbound lanes between the interchange with Pennsylvania Route 3, the West Chester Pike, and the junction with Interstate 95.
On Interstate 95, part-time shoulder use will be allowed southbound between the junction with Interstate 476 and the interchange for U.S. 322 east and the Commodore Barry Bridge.
PennDOT said it will support the design work, which is expected to take four years before construction can start. That includes installing "dynamic" overhead electronic signage to alert drivers when they can and cannot use the shoulder.
It said the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission plans to dedicate dollars to construction on the next update of its transportation improvement plan.
"We consistently look for creative ways to deal with congestion on Philadelphia regional expressways, and this new plan is aimed at alleviating bottlenecks on the Blue Route and on the stretch between the junction with Interstate 95 and the Commodore Barry Bridge," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards. "
PennDOT was already planning similar action for I-76, the Schuylkill Expressway, both east and westbound between U.S. 202 and the Interstate 476 interchange.
"Constrained resources restrict our ability to add capacity to Philadelphia-area expressways, but that does not mean we can't look at ways such as dynamic part-time shoulder use to alleviate the congestion," Richards said. "This technique is in use across the nation and has been shown to be a safe and effective way to improve traffic flow."
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