Cashless tolling has been found to be safer, faster, more convenient and better for the environment than traditional manned tolling booths. Drivers are able to continuously move through payment points, reducing commute backups and engine idling. Following the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s (PTC) announcement that it would transition to a fully cashless All-Electronic Tolling (AET) system along its 550-mile statewide roadway within the next few years, the organization expanded its workforce in order to process a higher volume of digital payments. To accommodate this increase in staff, it became necessary to expand the main billing office location in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, ahead of the AET launch date and plans were made to construct a larger, more dynamic headquarters for E-ZPass and toll by plate payments. KCI was contracted to perform construction management and construction inspection for the renovations during the installation of new power, HVAC, fire protection and plumbing systems, as well as finishes and furniture that would support approximately 600 Turnpike employees.
As the PTC moved toward a fully unmanned tolling system, technological updates to their tollbooths were happening more quickly than they had anticipated and renovations to their customer service center needed to be completed while on a tight schedule. With an immediate need to prepare for the influx of staff, addressing and evading issues in the project lifecycle was key to completing the work on an accelerated timetable. Having previously provided program management and coordination during Phase 1 of the facility’s renovations, KCI was equipped to bring inside knowledge about pre-existing conditions and alert the client to potential pitfalls.
Previous to the PTC occupying the facility, a private third-party cyber school was housed in the building and did not retain as-built documentation for utilities. Gas line, power line, parking lot lighting and sanitary system locations had not been verified since the facility was built in 1957. With no utility records in place, our team supplied in-house subsurface utility engineers to survey the area and map out interior and exterior amenities, saving time and cutting costs by avoiding digging in occupied areas.
Designers traced a water main where the contractors were planning to saw cut and place new sanitary pipeline, reconfiguring the installation plan to avoid the 2-inch pipe. Custom-made 5-inch pipe fittings were expeditiously procured from all over the country that allowed our team to connect the system directly and avoid pulling additional permits, performing maintenance of traffic, cutting into roadway and changing the sewer system to accommodate a typical 4- or 6-inch pipe size.
Having worked on Phase 1 of this project, our team had a strong relationship with the PTC and was able to provide significant insight on what issues may arise before they came to fruition. This knowledge allowed us to coordinate smoothly with the contractors to address concerns immediately and avoid long-term interruptions.
Eric Crawford, CMITConstruction Project Manager
As renovations to electrical systems were beginning, new electric units needed to be connected to an uninterrupted power supply. Due to our involvement in Phase 1, KCI was aware that the wiring system was unknown and scheduled an early Saturday morning outage to perform breaker tie-ins, taking the E-ZPass website down for only a few moments.
While upgrades were being made to the sprinklers throughout the building, the fire protection system temporarily did not meet code requirements. During the following seven months of design and installation, a third-party fire expert conducted walkthroughs and visual safety inspections every hour, 24 hours a day. Rigorous documentation and constant reporting ensured that the individuals throughout the facility were safe from any potential fire hazards as the new system was placed and calibrated.
To update the roof’s ductwork platforms, our team diagnosed portions of the roof that were in poor condition by conducting an innovative infrared scan to visualize water saturation underneath the rubber overlay. This novel survey method necessitates the scan be completed in darkness and required the project manager to work overnight. Steel dunnage was then tied into the roof and large I-beams spanned between the posts to suspend HVAC units in the air and install the ductwork underneath the curves, securing the systems on the structure.
For the safety and security of the PTC staff that was simultaneously working in the building, KCI and the contractors were careful to stay fully separate from employees. Our team restricted saw cutting and jackhammering actions to after business hours and all construction was completed without disrupting their call center activities. Strict COVID-19 plans were also put into place that included sanitizing the entire project space weekly and cleaning contractor job trailers consistently.
With a focus on utilizing innovative techniques and a maintaining a high level of quality control, our team was able to reach substantial completion ahead of schedule, manage the post-construction close-out, and enable E-ZPass employees to process cashless payments uninterrupted, allowing drivers to continue seamlessly traveling on the Turnpike without downtime. Thanks to the smooth coordination of the project team, the PTC successfully implemented the planned All-Electronic Tolling system along their highways and commuters can now enjoy a smoother experience traveling across the commonwealth.