HARRISBURG — Ahead of snowy conditions, cold temperatures and high winds expected across most of the state this weekend, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are advising motorists to avoid unnecessary travel during the storm. Additionally, the agencies anticipate implementing various speed and vehicle restrictions throughout the storm.
Restrictions will be communicated via variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website and smartphone apps. Motorists can also sign up for personalized alerts on the website.
Effective at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, vehicle restrictions are planned for the following roadways at Tier 2 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan:
- All interstates south of Interstate 80, not including I-80;
- PA Turnpike I-76 (Mainline) from the Ohio border to the New Jersey border, including all western extensions;
- PA Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476) from I-276 to I-80;
- The entire length of U.S. 22; and
- The entire length of Route 33.
Effective at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, vehicle restrictions are planned for the following roadways at Tier 2 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan:
- All interstates north of I-80, including I-80; and
- PA Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476) from I-80 to Clarks Summit.
Effective at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, vehicle restrictions are planned for the following roadways at Tier 3 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan:
- I-70 east of I-79; and
Effective at 11 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, vehicle restrictions are planned for the following roadways at Tier 3 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan:
- I-81 north of I-84;
- I-84; and
Under Tier 2 restrictions, the following vehicles are not permitted on affected roadways:
- Tractors without trailers;
- Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers;
- Tractors towing loaded tandem trailers unless there are chains or another approved Alternate Traction Device on board;
- Enclosed cargo delivery trucks that meet the definition of a CMV;
- Passenger vehicles (cars, SUV’s, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers;
- Recreational vehicles/motorhomes;
- School buses, commercial buses and motor coaches; and
On roadways with Tier 3 restrictions in place, no commercial vehicles are permitted except loaded single trailers with chains or approved Alternate Traction Devices. Additionally, all school buses, commercial buses, motor coaches, motorcycles, RVs/motorhomes and passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers are not permitted on affected roadways while restrictions are in place.
PennDOT urges motorists to avoid travel if possible. If travel is necessary, use caution, reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions. PennDOT will pre-treat roadways where necessary ahead of the storm to help prevent ice from forming a bond with the pavement during the early stages of a storm. However, salt is not a silver bullet, and drivers may encounter icy spots on the roadway. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning.
Drivers should prepare or restock their emergency kits with 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.
Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 301 crashes resulting in four fatalities and 143 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.