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Author Topic: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary  (Read 618 times)

briantroutman

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PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« on: September 17, 2018, 03:02:43 PM »

At last week’s Golden Spike meet, Mitch Dakelman mentioned that this coming November will mark 50 years since the Rays/Sideling bypass opened and the old alignment and tunnels were closed. I knew the anniversary was coming but had completely forgotten.

Half a century strikes me as a fairly major milestone to let pass uncommemorated, although I realize that many of us have already visited the old alignment (some of us several times) and have a certain amount of “abandoned Turnpike fatigue”. That factor, coupled with the timing (shortly after Thanksgiving) leads me to suspect that there probably won’t be much interest in a large-scale meet.

But still, it’s been a few years since I last visited, and I'm contemplating making the trek out there myself in late November. I thought I’d mention it here to see if any other people might be interested in going as well. I don’t have any definite plans yet—and whatever I do plan would be dependent on whether anyone else wants to go.

The actual opening date was 26 November 1968, although I’d be more inclined to visit on the 25th for two reasons: One is that the 25th, being a Sunday, would likely be easier to accommodate for scheduling purposes. The other (and more significant) reason is that Monday is the first day of deer hunting season in Pennsylvania.

So—is anyone interested in turning out for a low-key meet?
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2018, 03:06:33 PM »

If I were to go, I'd probably bring my bike.  I doubt I'd be able to pull that distance though, especially if I'm working full-time by then.

The downside of your proposed date is that it's the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend and likely to be a very busy travel day.
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PHLBOS

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2018, 03:11:30 PM »

I will be in Massachusetts during the entire Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 21-25); so I'm out.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2018, 03:33:52 PM »

As I mentioned to you in the car at Golden Spike, I've actually never been to the abandoned tunnels, despite living only ~2 hours away.  So, I would definitely be interested.  I'd feel more comfortable visiting in the context of a road meet than trying to explore them on my own.

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akotchi

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2018, 04:09:34 PM »

It would interest me, too, though because my daughter needs to get back to school after Thanksgiving break, that might rule me out.
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CanesFan27

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 06:36:10 PM »

Yes I certainly would be interested.  I'd also consider reaching out to the new Turnpike Bike2Pike group. 
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Hot Rod Hootenanny

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2018, 06:38:19 PM »

As much as would love to have the rest of you hold a birthday party meet for me that day, there is 0% chance I can get away from my job that weekend.
(Unless all/any of you can get me different employment before then)
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2018, 08:09:45 PM »

I doubt I’d be able to make it due to work, but I have some interest.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2018, 09:58:49 AM »

I'd be able to make the meet.  It would be interesting to see how the condition of the tunnels and road surface have changed in 14 years.
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qguy

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2018, 12:53:38 PM »

I'd love to, but alas...

I've visited a few times in the past. First time was back in 1992 or so. Definitely worth the drive.

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hbelkins

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2018, 01:00:39 PM »

If I were to go, I'd probably bring my bike.  I doubt I'd be able to pull that distance though, especially if I'm working full-time by then.

The downside of your proposed date is that it's the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend and likely to be a very busy travel day.

Especially in Breezewood. Isn't that when the epic backups usually occur?
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2018, 02:48:11 PM »

If I were to go, I'd probably bring my bike.  I doubt I'd be able to pull that distance though, especially if I'm working full-time by then.

The downside of your proposed date is that it's the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend and likely to be a very busy travel day.

Especially in Breezewood. Isn't that when the epic backups usually occur?

So stay the night, go to sheetz, see the traffic, go to the meet,  you'd get the full experience.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/i-vacationed-at-the-east-coasts-quintessential-rest-stop-its-more-inviting-than-it-looks/2017/08/10/a38ba58c-76d0-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.c6ab7d08700d
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2018, 04:51:32 PM »

Breezewood is a nuisance to be sure, but I’ve never experienced “epic” traffic there, even on holiday weekends. Even so, the worst of it could be avoided, either by meeting first in Bedford then taking US 30 to Breezewood (as we did in the 2003 SWPA meet)—or by exiting at Fort Littleton and beginning the tour at the eastern end.

It looks like a number of people are interested and at least a few would be able to attend—possibly more depending on how people’s schedules work out.

I’ve biked the Abandoned Turnpike in the past, and Froggie’s suggestion of biking is an idea that I also had when considering the possibility of a meet. But I suspect it would be problematic since assumably someone doesn’t have a bike, couldn’t bring it, etc. So I’m just throwing this out as a wild idea: Among those intending to come: Would you be interested in riding the old road (at a leisurely pace), and could you bring a bicycle? I could bring a bike for myself and one extra. Perhaps we’d be able to cover everybody the same way we did with hard hats and vests at the I-95 meet.

If we don’t do a bike tour, and also assuming we don’t get vehicular access to the Abandoned Turnpike (which I suppose is a slight possibility), we could still have a pretty good tour by driving to various publicly accessible access points and walking out to the old road. The western portal of Rays Hill, both portals of Sideling Hill, and the former Cove Valley Service Plaza site are all a reasonable walk from nearby parking areas.
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froggie

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2018, 09:05:32 PM »

Quote from: hbelkins
Especially in Breezewood. Isn't that when the epic backups usually occur?

Could always go in the back way.  In point of fact, it's better to bike from the Sideling Hill/east end anyways, as you'd get a net downhill on the return trip and that's the end with the abandoned travel plaza.
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jpi

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2018, 11:43:36 AM »

I would love to go this and even myself and Steph are going to be in the York\ Harrisburg area that whole week however, one of my biggest toy shows of the year falls on Sunday 11/25 in York so we would not be able to attend this, unless something is going on later that evening.
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hbelkins

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2018, 12:35:00 PM »

If I were to go, I'd probably bring my bike.  I doubt I'd be able to pull that distance though, especially if I'm working full-time by then.

The downside of your proposed date is that it's the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend and likely to be a very busy travel day.

Especially in Breezewood. Isn't that when the epic backups usually occur?

So stay the night, go to sheetz, see the traffic, go to the meet,  you'd get the full experience.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/i-vacationed-at-the-east-coasts-quintessential-rest-stop-its-more-inviting-than-it-looks/2017/08/10/a38ba58c-76d0-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.c6ab7d08700d

You know, I did that a few years ago. For the Philly-area meet, the one with the epic fail when it came to sorting out the check, I spent two nights in Breezewood. That was part of an overall larger trip I was doing, so I spent two nights in Breezewood, rode east to the meet and then back, and ate at Sheetz both nights.

ADDENDUM: It should be noted that if this meet involved a lot of walking, I'd most likely be out. I was on my feet a lot yesterday and my knee is telling me all about it today.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 01:22:02 PM by hbelkins »
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cl94

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2018, 09:36:08 PM »

I'm interested. I need to drive back from Buffalo to Albany that weekend anyway and this could be an excuse to clinch stuff.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2018, 07:46:09 PM »

Breezewood is a nuisance to be sure, but I’ve never experienced “epic” traffic there, even on holiday weekends. Even so, the worst of it could be avoided, either by meeting first in Bedford then taking US 30 to Breezewood (as we did in the 2003 SWPA meet)—or by exiting at Fort Littleton and beginning the tour at the eastern end.

Ed's Steakhouse in Bedford is a nice place.  I've been there for an Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor meeting, and we were able to get our own dining room.  Then there is always Hoss's, the site for the Breezewood Meet.  If wanting to meet in Breezewood is preferred, there is the Gateway Travel Plaza (the first business in Breezewood) which now has a food court.

I’ve biked the Abandoned Turnpike in the past, and Froggie’s suggestion of biking is an idea that I also had when considering the possibility of a meet. But I suspect it would be problematic since assumably someone doesn’t have a bike, couldn’t bring it, etc. So I’m just throwing this out as a wild idea: Among those intending to come: Would you be interested in riding the old road (at a leisurely pace), and could you bring a bicycle? I could bring a bike for myself and one extra. Perhaps we’d be able to cover everybody the same way we did with hard hats and vests at the I-95 meet.

If we don’t do a bike tour, and also assuming we don’t get vehicular access to the Abandoned Turnpike (which I suppose is a slight possibility), we could still have a pretty good tour by driving to various publicly accessible access points and walking out to the old road. The western portal of Rays Hill, both portals of Sideling Hill, and the former Cove Valley Service Plaza site are all a reasonable walk from nearby parking areas.

I would contact whomever owns the pike nowadays and see if they would allow vehicular access.  I did that with the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy months before I held my meet, but they weren't the most communicative bunch which is why I never attempted another meet.  I never heard one way or the other as to if we were allowed vehicles onto the roadway, so the morning of the meet I was scouting pedestrian access points via parallel roads.  Fortunately one of the attendees was a SAC member and told me we indeed had permission.
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tckma

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2018, 10:44:44 AM »

: Would you be interested in riding the old road (at a leisurely pace), and could you bring a bicycle?

I would need to rent, borrow, or buy a bike and helmet, plus a way to get it there in or on my car.

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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2018, 10:54:54 AM »

While I wouldn't really feel comfortable bringing my bike such a long distance (as in driving it there), I do have headlamps. Being as they lit up a cave pretty well, I figure they'd light up a tunnel. In November, it may be better to walk anyway. Weather may or may not be suitable for biking and we won't know until much closer.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2018, 11:01:18 AM »

I've done rides in both mid-November and March before.  While not "summerlike" by any stretch of the imagination, it's still doable.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2018, 06:02:11 PM »

Regarding the bicycle idea, I knew it was a long shot suggestion. As fun as biking the Abandoned Turnpike would be for a few of us, it would seriously limit the pool of potential attendees. I just threw the idea out there in the off chance that several people would respond right away along the lines of “yes...great idea...I can bring a bike”, but obviously that didn’t happen.

As Jeff suggested, I’ve gotten in touch with a contact at the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy to see about getting vehicular access to the old roadway. We’ll have to wait and see what options the allow us. But regardless—whether we get vehicular access or not—we can still manage a pretty decent tour. I’ll keep the thread updated when I get new information from SAC.

Regarding the specific date we choose: 26 November is the actual anniversary, but being a Monday and the first day of deer season, I thought it wouldn’t be a good choice for a meet. Considering the timing after Thanksgiving, I assume Sunday would fit better into more people’s schedules than Saturday since it would allow a greater buffer after Thanksgiving. Do you agree—or would Saturday work better for you?
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2018, 07:21:53 PM »

I don't know about other people, but it's easiest for me to get to this thing on a Saturday if I end up going. Glorious thing called "Monday morning meetings". That being said, if it doesn't line up with my schedule, I may just take the itinerary and do it Saturday or Sunday morning anyway. While I have been a few feet inside Rays Hill, I have never been to the Sideling Hill tunnel nor the plaza.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2018, 10:57:23 PM »

Earlier this summer, I rode my bicycle from US 30 to and through Rays Hill Tunnel. Car access to the road is not possible from the western end - the old US 30 bridge is gone, the hill coming up from US 30 is not vehicle-friendly, and I recall Jersey barriers in the way to block ATVs.

While I understand wanting to do this meet around the 50th anniversary, the weather in Pennsylvania at the end of November can be dicey. When it's dry, the average high is only in the 40s, so not good for bicycling, and it can easily snow. I'd suggest moving things up to October or early November when it's generally still warmer out and a lot less likely to snow.
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Re: PA Turnpike - Rays/Sideling Bypass 50th Anniversary
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2018, 11:36:05 PM »

Earlier this summer, I rode my bicycle from US 30 to and through Rays Hill Tunnel. Car access to the road is not possible from the western end - the old US 30 bridge is gone, the hill coming up from US 30 is not vehicle-friendly, and I recall Jersey barriers in the way to block ATVs.

While I understand wanting to do this meet around the 50th anniversary, the weather in Pennsylvania at the end of November can be dicey. When it's dry, the average high is only in the 40s, so not good for bicycling, and it can easily snow. I'd suggest moving things up to October or early November when it's generally still warmer out and a lot less likely to snow.
Car access would have to be from the parking area nearer the east end.

 


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