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Turnpike Studies Future of Southwest Pennsylvania Tunnel

Situated on the turnpike about 14 miles southeast of Somerset, the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel is 70 years old and deteriorating. It causes congestion, sometimes backing up traffic for miles. Now, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission wants to see what can be done to revitalize or bypass it.

Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said his agency has hired an engineering contractor to study the cost and feasibility of three options.

DeFebo said the Turnpike Commission could widen the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel to accomodate increasing traffic, build a completely new tunnel to the north or south of it, or create a bypass to go over the mountain without a tunnel.

The study itself will likely take a year or more, costing about $1 million, said DeFebo. But he added that no matter what the Turnpike Commission decides, the entire process will be a "thorough undertaking" that will probably last many years and cost at least $200 million.