Hundreds of thousands of commuters, vacationers, and business travelers face daily delays as drivers seeking alternate routes spill onto other highways.
"It's a perfect summer storm of travel issues - seasonally high travel volume and Shore traffic up against an I-495 closure and I-95 construction," said Jenny Robinson, spokeswoman of the AAA Mid-Atlantic auto club. "A SEPTA strike would only add to that traffic flood, and travelers need to allow plenty of time. This could indeed be a long, hot summer."
Travelers on northbound I-95 Thursday morning will find new lane configurations between Girard and Allegheny, as traffic is shifted to allow reconstruction and widening.
Similar changes are slated for southbound traffic in the same segment starting June 19.
About 160,000 vehicles a day travel that section of the freeway.
The first effects of a SEPTA rail strike could be felt as early as Saturday. On a typical Saturday, about 48,000 passengers ride on Regional Rail, and about 37,500 do so on a typical Sunday.
On an average weekday, 126,000 riders take Regional Rail.
A strike by train engineers and rail electrical workers remains likely, union leaders said Wednesday. Union leaders and SEPTA officials will meet Friday with a federal mediator in a last effort to avoid a strike.
"We will be monitoring the SEPTA situation closely," said state Department of Transportation spokesman Eugene Blaum. "Obviously, we could have many more vehicles on the highway if there is a work stoppage."