The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and PA Turnpike are advising motorists to closely monitor weather forecasts and conditions as a storm brings mixed precipitation types to much of the state, with many areas expected to see precipitation during the Monday evening and Tuesday morning rush hours.
“Our crews have been and will continue to treat roadways through the storm, and the public are our partners in handling this storm,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “I want to remind drivers that while snow is falling roads will not be bare, and in a storm like this one, snow can be helpful in reducing initial impacts from sleet and freezing rain.”
Due to potential snowfall and anticipated sleet or freezing rain along with balancing needs for goods movement, PennDOT and the PA Turnpike are implementing phased restrictions through the storm. Depending on conditions, restrictions may be expanded or reduced. See a map of planned restrictions at www.penndot.gov, and when restrictions are effective, they can be viewed at www.511PA.com.
At midnight tonight, a full commercial vehicle ban (including buses) will be in place on I-70 in Fulton County (from the Maryland state line to the Turnpike) and on I-99 from I-80 to the Turnpike. Also at midnight, from New Stanton east to Carlisle, the Turnpike will prohibit:empty, straight CDL-weighted trucks;
- all Large Combination Vehicles (double trailers);
- tractors hauling empty trailers;
- any trailers pulled by motorcycles, passenger vehicles, pickup trucks or SUVs;
- all motorcycles; and
- all recreational vehicles and RVs.
At 6:00 AM Tuesday, PennDOT and the PA Turnpike will implement a full commercial vehicle ban (including buses) on the following roadways:
- Interstate 380 full length from I-81 to I-80;
- I-80 from I-79 to the New Jersey state line;
- I-81 from I-78 to the New York state line;
- I-84 full length from I-81 to the New York state line;
- I-476 (PA Turnpike, Northeast Ext.) from I-78 to Clarks Summit (exit 131); and
- I-180 full length from Route 220/U.S. 15 to I-80.
Also at 6:00 AM Tuesday, PennDOT and the PA Turnpike will prohibit only empty, straight CDL-weighted trucks; all Large Combination Vehicles (double trailers); tractors hauling empty trailers; any trailers pulled by motorcycles, passenger vehicles, pickup trucks or SUVs; all motorcycles; and all recreational vehicles and RVs on the following roadways:
- PA Turnpike (I-76, I-276, I-95) from I-81 to the New Jersey state line;
- I-476 (non-Turnpike, full length);
- I-476 (PA Turnpike, Northeast Ext.) from Mid-County (#20) to Lehigh Valley (exit 56);
- I-76 (Turnpike and non-Turnpike, New Stanton to Philadelphia);
- I-78 full length from I-81 to the New Jersey state line;
- I-81 from the Maryland state line to I-78 split;
- I-83 from the Maryland state line to I-81;
- I-95 full length;
- Route 22 from I-78 to the New Jersey state line; and
- Route 33 from I-78 to I-80.
A 45-mph speed restriction will be in place on all roadways with vehicle restrictions at least during those timeframes and may be implemented sooner and on non-vehicle-restricted roadways as well.
To help make decisions regarding winter travel, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
A vehicle emergency kit should be prepared or restocked containing items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication and pet supplies.
Motorists should be aware that all vehicles should be fully clear of ice and snow before winter travel. If snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of that vehicle could receive a $200 to $1,000 fine.
When winter weather occurs, PennDOT urges drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:
- Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
- Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
- When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
- Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
- Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see, and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
- Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.