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Author Topic: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary  (Read 7795 times)

briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #25 on: October 25, 2018, 12:00:47 PM »

Finally—one month later—I got to speak with the district manager from the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy. Getting vehicular access to the old road is a possibility, but there are a few caveats that we’ll need to clear if everyone is interested.

In general, SAC is pretty tightfisted with regard to allowing access to the old road. The district manager told me that they just turned down a request from the family of an 80-year-old who worked on the Turnpike as a young man and wanted to see the old tunnels one last time. But she said we’d have a greater chance of getting approval if our event was well organized and documented and we did some groundwork in advance.

Along those lines, I’d have to make a pilot trip to Breezewood next week, survey the intended route, and prepare a report documenting that our planned path is passable. I’d then submit a report to SAC by Thursday of next week (Nov. 1st), and the board of directors would make a final decision the following day. The district manager said we’d also be more likely to get our request approved if we planned to use the fewest possible vehicles—such as a single 15-passenger van.

In addition, I would need to provide SAC with a certificate of liability insurance covering them for up to $1 million in case of any accidents or incidents. I checked with my insurer, and I can buy this much “special event” coverage for $100. The district manager also said that they ask for a donation—either monetary or as in-kind volunteer work—in exchange for access to the old road. I’m not sure what they expect as a minimum donation. ($100? Picking up litter for an afternoon?)

I’m willing to jump through the hurdles mentioned if we still have a fair number of people interested. Among those interested, would you consider chipping in to split whatever costs are associated with getting access? Assuming the out-of-pocket costs are around $200 and we get ten attendees, that would be roughly $20 per person. Is that reasonable?
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froggie

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #26 on: October 25, 2018, 01:37:11 PM »

^ I'm presuming they frown upon people who bike the old road and the tunnels on their own.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #27 on: October 25, 2018, 02:13:28 PM »

^ I'm presuming they frown upon people who bike the old road and the tunnels on their own.
Officially, don't do that. Unofficially, try not to be seen.

briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #28 on: October 25, 2018, 03:18:49 PM »

^ I think every article I’ve ever read about the Abandoned Turnpike in the SAC era includes a line along the lines of “...officially, the road is closed to the public, but...”

Obviously the one aspect of our meet which brings us under the scrutiny of the SAC board and subjects us to the liability insurance requirements is getting access to drive motor vehicles on the roadway. A SAC key holder will need to drive out on the day of the meet and open gates for us, and of course they won’t do that without all of the necessary clearances.

Being able to drive through would allow for an easier, more comfortable, and more comprehensive meet (and perhaps allow some people to attend who otherwise couldn’t make the necessary one-mile treks from the parking areas to the tunnel portals), but clearly it will also add some cost and red tape as well.

I’d be just as happy to do a more casual park-and-walk itinerary, but I’m also willing to comply with SAC’s requirements if there is enough interest. So I’m turning it back to all of you: What do you prefer?
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2018, 04:50:04 PM »

I don't care either way; I DEFINITELY need the exercise, and the road is closed to the public anyway, so for me, I think walking it would be better.

On the other hand, I know if I want my wife to attend, we absolutely CANNOT have any part of the meet be on foot or on bike.  In fact, I don't know if she'd even do a 15 passenger van because she'd want to bring our dogs along (again, I think THAT would be better if we walk!).

I'd go to this either way.

cl94

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #30 on: October 25, 2018, 07:03:47 PM »

No preference here. I have no problem walking - allows us to see more of the "goodies" along the road.

Regardless, there's a better-than-average chance I'd be able to make a semi-formal meet. Being the weekend after Thanksgiving, I'm already on the road.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #31 on: October 25, 2018, 08:30:03 PM »

Sure it’s reasonable.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2018, 10:30:26 PM »

Either decision is fine with me.  Hopefully we don't get hit with an early season snow storm beforehand.

In addition, I would need to provide SAC with a certificate of liability insurance covering them for up to $1 million in case of any accidents or incidents. I checked with my insurer, and I can buy this much “special event” coverage for $100. The district manager also said that they ask for a donation—either monetary or as in-kind volunteer work—in exchange for access to the old road. I’m not sure what they expect as a minimum donation. ($100? Picking up litter for an afternoon?)

Sheesh, I am glad I didn't have to go through all of this back in 2004.  The LHHC gave grants to SAC for the Pike, but I am guessing I can't say I gave at the office :D.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #33 on: October 26, 2018, 08:55:00 AM »

Thanks for the responses. I’ll plan to make a pilot trip to Breezewood next week, survey the road conditions, and prepare a plan for SAC. That way, the drive-through option is still possibly open to us, and we can decide later whether we want to utilize it or not. I won’t have to buy the insurance or make a donation until we decide to go exercise that option.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #34 on: October 26, 2018, 03:36:33 PM »

My sister will be visiting from New Jersey Thanksgiving weekend, so we’re out.
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cl94

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2018, 03:49:46 PM »

Thanks for the responses. I’ll plan to make a pilot trip to Breezewood next week, survey the road conditions, and prepare a plan for SAC. That way, the drive-through option is still possibly open to us, and we can decide later whether we want to utilize it or not. I won’t have to buy the insurance or make a donation until we decide to go exercise that option.

Sweet. I'm almost certainly in regardless of how it is done/which day that weekend it happens. Whichever works best for others (though the more I think about it, the more I think a Sunday meet may work better for a handful of reasons). I have headlamps/other tunnel exploration equipment I can easily bring.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2018, 09:22:52 PM »

I just completed a 21-mile bicycle circuit of the entire SAC-owned roadway this afternoon (pulling my daughter in a bike trailer to boot). I identified a clear, vehicle-worthy path for us to follow from end to end (and back)...assuming we get permission to take vehicles onto the roadway. I took dozens of photos and will compile a detailed itinerary and event plan for SAC’s board to review during their meeting on Friday.

In the meantime, let’s all tentatively plan that this meet will happen on Sunday, 25 November 2018. My guess is that it’s likely that they’ll greenlight our plan, but even if not, I have an alternate itinerary ready for park-and-walk meet.

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2018, 08:42:14 AM »

As I mentioned before, I will be busy with one of my biggest toy shows of the year in York, PA that same day from the morning up until 4pm but depending on what the itinerary is maybe I can catch up with you all later in the evening.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2018, 09:03:05 AM »

Sure, Jason—as with the I-95 meet, where various attendees had to either leave early or arrive late, I’d love to have you come for whatever portion of the day you’re able.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2018, 03:24:24 PM »

I sent a rather detailed proposal to my SAC contact on Thursday, and I was hoping I’d get a quick response since their board meeting was yesterday, but Friday came to a close without any news from my contact there. I’m still reasonably confident that they’ll give us approval for vehicular access, but as mentioned, I plan to move forward either way—with or without vehicular access to the Abandoned Turnpike.

I’ll create an event sign-up page (just like Golden Spike meet in September)—I’ll be sending a final count of planned attendees over to SAC before the event.

As mentioned earlier, my SAC contact said that the organization would like to receive either a monetary donation or an “in-kind” donation (i.e. volunteerism) in exchange for allowing the event to take place. In my proposal, one of the possible in-kind donations I suggested is that we would pick up litter along the route during our tour. There isn’t a ton of litter along the route, and most of it is concentrated at the tunnel portals—empty beverage bottles and cans, spent spray paint cans (surprise, surprise), etc. I imagine most of you would prefer this little bit of work to chipping in an additional $20 or so for a monetary gift, plus it would be doing some good for the property as well. But if no one likes this idea and SAC decides to exercise the litter clean-up option, I could just show up a few hours early and do it myself prior to the meet.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #40 on: November 05, 2018, 03:37:23 PM »

Just got news from my SAC contact that our meet proposal has been approved! An official R.S.V.P. form will be posted here later today.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #41 on: November 06, 2018, 11:07:18 AM »

The event sign-up page is online now: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rayssideling-bypass-50th-anniversary-meet-tickets-52258770389

If you’re interested in attending, please R.S.V.P. as soon as possible so that we can make adjustments (as needed) to accommodate the number of people who plan to attend.

The tentative itinerary and all pertinent details are fairly well covered on the event page, but if you have any questions, feel free to either post to this thread or send me an email.

I look forward to seeing you all there!
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #42 on: November 07, 2018, 03:19:19 PM »

I’ve gotten a few sign-ups so far, but I just wanted to post again in case anyone casually following the thread may have missed: The event sign-up page is online now.

The event page will likely be posted to the AARoads Facebook feed as well as the PAHighways feeds in the next few days, and because of the possibility that we may need to limit sign-ups based on tour vehicle capacity, I wanted anyone here on the forums to get the first chance to register.

Also, I just had a nice phone conversation with John Carlin, who will be volunteering his time to open access gates for us and provide assistance if any debris clearing is necessary. He’s the manager of the Quality Inn Breezewood, and if any of you are planning an overnight stay before or after the meet, I’d encourage you to consider staying there.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #43 on: November 07, 2018, 06:43:20 PM »

I’ve gotten a few sign-ups so far, but I just wanted to post again in case anyone casually following the thread may have missed: The event sign-up page is online now.

The event page will likely be posted to the AARoads Facebook feed as well as the PAHighways feeds in the next few days, and because of the possibility that we may need to limit sign-ups based on tour vehicle capacity, I wanted anyone here on the forums to get the first chance to register.

Also, I just had a nice phone conversation with John Carlin, who will be volunteering his time to open access gates for us and provide assistance if any debris clearing is necessary. He’s the manager of the Quality Inn Breezewood, and if any of you are planning an overnight stay before or after the meet, I’d encourage you to consider staying there.

I stayed at that Quality Inn eight years ago, when I used Breezewood as the base for my trip to the SEPA meet (part of a longer road trip) that was infamous for the venue somehow forgetting about the room reservation for us, and then the huge delay in separating the check. It's a nice facility, and not far from a Sheetz. Plus you can walk down to the big truck stop that has a bunch of restaurants, and from what I understand, is undergoing a massive renovation. I'd recommend it for anyone planning to stay there. I found it to be a very nice place. It's an old-fashioned motor lodge with exterior corridors, but the rooms were very nice and clean.

Of course, I expect that most attendees will be of the mindset that they don't want to spend any money whatsoever in Breezewood.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #44 on: November 08, 2018, 12:35:53 PM »

Of course, I expect that most attendees will be of the mindset that they don't want to spend any money whatsoever in Breezewood.

Who might that be?  ;-)
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversar
« Reply #45 on: November 08, 2018, 01:31:19 PM »

After about three days of being online, a little more than half of the available spaces for this event have been reserved.  We’re limited to 15 because of SAC’s requirement to use a tour van. If interest is absolutely overwhelming, we might look into adding a second van, but I doubt that will be the case.

So if you haven’t yet registered and plan to attend, please do so before the available spaces are claimed.

Of course, I expect that most attendees will be of the mindset that they don't want to spend any money whatsoever in Breezewood.

I thought about mentioning something along those lines (“Understandably, some of you won’t want to spend any money in Breeezewood...”) but assumed that it went without saying.

Regardless, I think it’s worth mentioning: This Quality Inn has been owned by the same family for 50+ years. The original owners (descendants of whom still live in the area) were farmers who had their farmland split and rendered essentially useless by the construction of the Turnpike in 1940. They managed to adapt and survive despite the loss of their original livelihood, which I think is commendable, and they’re not connected with the family that runs the sprawling Gateway complex.

And as H.B.’s report seems to confirm, reviews of this Quality Inn are overwhelmingly positive.
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cl94

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #46 on: November 08, 2018, 02:17:38 PM »

As much as I would love to make it to this, I was recently informed that I need to be in Albany the next morning for meetings. :-|  Therefore, I am out. Hope everyone has a good time.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #47 on: November 08, 2018, 03:56:53 PM »

We’re limited to 15 because of SAC’s requirement to use a tour van. If interest is absolutely overwhelming, we might look into adding a second van, but I doubt that will be the case.

Exactly in what manner will a tour van be provided?

In addition, I would need to provide SAC with a certificate of liability insurance covering them for up to $1 million in case of any accidents or incidents. I checked with my insurer, and I can buy this much “special event” coverage for $100.

That sounds too much to me like contracting for a liability waiver (aka exculpatory clause) with the owners.  While they are fairly common for (supposedly) high risk activities, I usually refuse to do business with a company that requires that.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 04:02:08 PM by Beltway »
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #48 on: November 08, 2018, 04:44:57 PM »

Exactly in what manner will a tour van be provided?

I’m renting a 15-passenger van (likely a Ford Transit) from Enterprise, and the tour van will be the single vehicle authorized to enter the Abandoned Turnpike. This was one of the terms discussed with SAC in order to get permission for the event.

As mentioned, if interest was overwhelming, we might look into getting a second van, but that would complicate logistics significantly, and honestly, I think 15 is a realistic number of attendees to expect.

I usually refuse to do business with a company that requires that.

Well—regardless of SAC’s motivations in stipulating this requirement, I’m not going to scrap the meet because of it.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #49 on: November 09, 2018, 09:54:36 AM »

Brian, what time are you planning on starting the meetup?

I ask because my wife and I are going to visit my in-laws in the Hartford area for Thanksgiving, and we check out of the hotel Sunday morning.  I'm trying to figure out the logistics -- when I'd need to leave CT in order to be there on time, if my wife wants to come with, if we're taking both cars to CT so I can drive to Breezewood and she can drive home with the dogs... that sort of thing.

 


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