PennDot officials have been discussing opening shoulders on the region's highways, including the Schuylkill Expressway, to traffic as a way to ease congestion.

On Friday, PennDot said it would try the technique on the Blue Route and I-95 in Delaware County as well. The approach is planned for bottleneck areas on I-476 between Route 3 and I-95, and on I-95 between I-476 and Route 322 and the Commodore Barry Bridge. Shoulders would be open for travel only during peak rush hours.

Areas being considered for part-time shoulder use.
Areas being considered for part-time shoulder use.

It will likely be four years before the design for the changes is complete, PennDot officials said. Construction would follow.

Dense development and geography make expanding highways in Southeastern Pennsylvania challenging, and PennDot has been seeking creative solutions to try to relieve traffic jams. Proposals beyond opening shoulders include more advanced signs to alert drivers to traffic ahead, combined with efforts to divert some motorists to public transportation.

Opening the shoulders during rush hours is a bit of an experiment for the state, said Rich Kirkpatrick, a PennDot spokesman.

"The plans for the Schuylkill and the Blue Route and I-95 will be the first such applications in Pennsylvania," he said.