Case study

Helping commuters plan ahead on America’s first superhighway

Pennsylvania Turnpike

May 17, 2022


The Pennsylvania Turnpike became America’s first superhighway when it opened in 1940. Its design, construction and convenience made it a modern marvel, consisting of one continuous piece of concrete winding its way through mountains and over plains, connecting the entire state. Today, the PA Turnpike spans 550 miles, triple its original length, and features 17 main exits along its route from northern Allentown to western Pittsburgh. The PA Turnpike Commission continues a legacy of innovation in the ground transportation industry and embraces modern technology for faster response times, increased traffic flow and safer trips for drivers.

Driver-driven design

Driving on the turnpike was still smooth sailing but navigating the toll system and the website was a bumpy experience. The commission engaged RSM to develop a new website, vendor portal and, most importantly, an electronic toll calculator. Our team was eager to help, knowing the project would have a tremendous impact on millions, including neighbors of RSM employees who live or work in the state, and many local members of the project team as well.

To kick off the project, our team reached out to turnpike drivers for feedback on why and how they used the highway’s website, E-Z Pass system and related functions. Their responses provided useful insights that guided the team in developing the design and functionality of the new website and its tools.

Repaving a digital highway

Working alongside the turnpike commission, the RSM team revamped the website to provide a more streamlined digital experience for users. While the entire site received a major update, the toll calculator function was the cornerstone of the project. Rounds of ideation and user testing transformed the calculator into an innovative web app enabling users to navigate Pennsylvania’s superhighway easily and accurately. Other updates included a new user interface, an easy-to-use vendor portal and a much-needed webpage consolidation.

Looking to the road ahead

In addition to the satisfaction derived from helping a world-class roadway maximize its potential and maintain its excellence, RSM takes pride in the fact that the project was not a one-and-done engagement. The commission expressed great interest in continuing its working relationship with RSM through many future projects. Not only did the new website and toll calculator exceed their expectations, the commission was also impressed by RSM’s visualization of the turnpike’s potential through a human-centered design lens, and by our use of refined research methods and practices to provide outsize outcomes.


RSM logo and and culture logo merge to announce human centered design practice

How can we help you turn moments into movements?