The Future of Laurel Hill Tunnel

This photograph shows the pavement looking eastbound from Laurel Hill Tunnel.  The
separation of the pavement on the left side of this photograph may indicate the former
location of the Laurel Hill rest area.  This was a small rest area that served sandwiches
and provided an opportunity to fill up the gas tank.  Date and photographer unknown.

There is no indication that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission may have any intention of selling the tunnel or making it open to the public in the future.  The abandoned tunnels near Breezewood (Ray's Hill and Sideling Hill) are more easily established as a recreation area because, after the bypass in 1968, they were still accessible from convenient local roads. This would not be so for Laurel Hill; the only easy access to it is from the Turnpike itself, so even if the tunnel and right-of-way were open to the public, getting to it would require the cooperation of the Turnpike or of local residents whose land must be crossed to reach the area.

As of May 2006, $100,000 was budgeted in the Turnpike's capital plan for a full inspection of the Tunnel scheduled for 2012-2013 (item "T099.59NN001 - Laurel Mountain Tunnel Inspection, 2012-13").

The fact that the Turnpike Commission is still maintaining records for Laurel Hill Tunnel despite abandoning it to traffic in 1964, tells us that they do indeed still own it.  As this web page is created, it is the start of 2007.  An inspection of the tunnel is five to six years away.  This hints that the tunnel remains structurally sound, despite the eastern portal's fan housing room collapsing around 2000. 

SOURCE:  (edited)

This page was first uploaded:
January 17, 2007

Last updated:
August 09, 2014

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