The Pennsylvania Turnpike has revived plans to replace the Allegheny Tunnels in Somerset County, a project that has been talked about for nearly two decades.
The turnpike commission is considering six options for abandoning the 6,070-foot-long tunnels, longest on the turnpike mainline. Three would involve building new tunnels and three would carve an open highway through the mountain either to the north or south of the existing tunnels.
Preliminary cost estimates for the “cut” options range from $242 million to $345 million, while estimates for the tunnel options range from $537 million to $694 million, according to turnpike consultant L.R. Kimball. Annual maintenance costs for a tunnel would exceed $3 million, several times what an open highway segment would cost.
Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said the cost differential was just one of several factors the commission will consider in choosing a preferred option, possibly in the spring.