Route 51/Route 88
Redesign Plans Submitted October 4, 2010
(Construction to take place 2013-2014)
Click on images for larger pictures
In November 2015, if all goes as planned, motorists approaching the Route 51/Route 88 exchange will be in for a nice surprise. The busy intersection, which handles 42,000 vehicles daily and has been a notorious traffic bottleneck for years, will be sporting a new look, and hopefully a new feel.
From the Fall of 2013 through the Fall of 2015, the interchange will be undergoing a complete redesign which should alleviate many of the existing traffic problems, along with bringing the heavily traveled exchange up to modern standards of convenience and safety.
Two Decades Of Planning
The Route51/Route 88, or the Saw Mill Run Boulevard/Library Road, interchange reconstruction project began back in March 1992 as an at-grade intersection improvement plan.
The effort was expanded in 2002 to study a multi-faceted redesign of the entire interchange. Design studies continued until 2004, when they were temporarily put on hold due to funding constraints.
The project was restarted in 2007, with the incorporation of right-sizing and smart transportation initiatives. It was determined that the project would address the structurally deficient bridges along with traffic mobility and safety enhancements. Current design efforts have been underway since 2008.
A 2008 traffic safety study identified four of the five intersections at the Route 51/Route 88 interchange as high probability crash locations.
Stewart Avenue, Glenbury Street, Library Road and Underwood Street were listed as dangerous in four separate catagories: Signalized Intersection crashes, Hit Pole crashes, Hit Fixed Object crashes and Run off the Road crashes. This finding added a sense of urgency to the need for a solution to this traffic bottleneck.
By the Fall of 2010, the project scope had been defined and a comprehensive plan was announced to the public. Planners identified eight properties, and nineteen partial or temporary lots that needed to be obtained. Property appraisal and acquisition negotiations soon began.
Final design details, utility adjustments and relocations, and permit acquisition were completed in the Summer of 2012. Construction began in the September 2013 and is expected to continue through November 2015.
The cost estimated cost of the reconstruction project was initially estimated at $15 million and funding was obtained. Since then, the cost has increased to nearly $20,000,000.
The new interchange will feature what engineers call a jughandle, which will serve as a detour during the replacement of the bridge network and existing roadway surfaces. This jughandle will then be incorporated into the new design as a way to streamline the traffic flow along Saw Mill Run Boulevard.
During the construction process, access to adjacent residences and businesses will be maintained. Bus routes and bus stops will be adjusted as necessary to maintain outbound and inbound service. Two lanes of vehicular traffic will be available throughout the construction period. Despite these efforts to keep the intersection functioning, delays can be expected.
The project goals are as follows:
Improvements to be expected:
New Traffic Patterns once project is
A Welcome Relief
After twenty years of preparation, the Route 51/Route 88 intersection is finally getting a necessary makeover. Built in 1929, this is the first comprehensive work ever done on this busy intersection.
The bridge network is, after over eighty years of continual use, literally crumbling. Poor water flow has led to increased flooding during heavy rain. To have waited any longer to implement these improvements would have been inviting disaster.
It is hoped that when construction is over the new design will be a welcome relief for motorists, an upgrade as beneficial as the recently completed Liberty Tunnel and West End Interchange Improvements.
* Photos and information
obtained from PennDot Presentation - October 4, 2010 *
<Building Brookline> <> <Brookline History>