Gov. Wolf announces travel restrictions ahead of winter storm
According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency in anticipation of a significant winter snowstorm that will impact the state starting Monday evening through late Tuesday and announced PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike will restrict speeds on interstates and some large commercial vehicular travel.
Wolf also announced that PennDOT will strategically deploy additional assets to areas expected to be hardest hit by the storm, including the Lehigh Valley, Poconos and northeast areas.
Wolf and state agencies will provide an update on preparations for the impending winter storm at 3:30 p.m. today. The briefing will be streamed live at governor.pa.gov/live/ or facebook.com/governorwolf/.
“State agencies continue to take proactive steps to ensure Pennsylvania is ready for the incoming winter weather and Pennsylvanians should take their own precautions and prepare for adverse conditions, especially for travel,” Wolf said. “We are preparing for the most significant part of the storm to hit the eastern half of the state from Monday night through Tuesday’s commute with significant winds to follow and cause additional concerns. I ask residents and commercial drivers across the commonwealth to prepare to avoid unnecessary travel on roadways during this time — as to let road crews and emergency responders do their jobs and minimize dangerous travel.”
This proclamation is not a state of emergency, as it does not prohibit vehicular travel on commonwealth roads, but motorists are strongly encouraged to delay all unnecessary travel and heed local road closures that may be in place. A proclamation ensures emergency resources can be procured as needed and increases protections for consumers from price gouging.
To help PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike crews get the optimum access to the interstates and expressways during the storm, beginning at 10 p.m. Monday, these restrictions will be in place on all interstates and expressways east of Interstate 99 and including Interstate 99:
• 45 mph speed limit
• Ban on tandem truck trailers, empty trailers, towed trailers, buses, recreational vehicles and motorcycles
These restrictions will be in place on Interstates 70, 76, 78, 80, 81, 83, 84, 283, 176, 180, 476, 380 and all expressways not on the interstate system. The turnpike will have the same restrictions beginning at 10 p.m. Monday from the Bedford Interchange east to NJ and on the entire Northeastern extension. PennDOT is also canceling all superload permits for movement on Tuesday.
PennDOT has 4,800 equipment operators, more than 2,000 plow trucks, 49 snow blowers. All of PennDOT’s 11 regions will go on round-the-clock duty beginning Monday evening. PennDOT’s goal is to keep roadways passable and interstates and expressways take priority over lower-volume routes.
PennDOT will also be redeploying assets to eastern Pennsylvania, where the brunt of the storm is forecast to hit. Three Mobile Equipment Teams will be dispatched. Each team consists of five plow trucks, 10 equipment operators and one supervisor. Teams are being dispatched from PennDOT’s northwestern Pennsylvania district to the Scranton area, from the Pittsburgh area district to Monroe County near Stroudsburg and from southwestern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley area.
The proclamation authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. The time-consuming bidding and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation.
In addition, the proclamation authorizes the Department of Transportation to waive regulations related to drivers of commercial vehicles in order to ensure the timely movement of commodities, particularly food and home heating fuel.
It also provides consumer protections against price gouging by prohibiting companies from charging a price for consumer goods or services that exceeds 20 percent of the average price that the consumer goods or services were sold for in the seven days preceding the effective date of Wolf’s proclamation.
In the event travel is absolutely necessary, motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles by visiting 511PA.com. PennDOT’s Automated Vehicle Locator plow tracking tool is available for all of the more than 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks, with vehicle locations viewable on 511PA.