Governor Wolf Provides Storm Update on Visit to Philadelphia PennDOT Maintenance Facility

March 21, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – With a weather system forecast to continue to impact wide areas of the southern and eastern half of Pennsylvania with snow through Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf visited a PennDOT maintenance facility in Philadelphia this morning to provide a storm update and to thank PennDOT workers for their dedication to keeping roads clear and safe.

“This storm is not the way anyone wants to welcome spring, but Pennsylvania state emergency, transportation, law enforcement, and many other agencies are prepared to keep Pennsylvanians safe, roads cleared, and utilities operating,” Gov. Wolf said. “We anticipate the most snow across the southern and eastern half of the state, and I caution residents in those areas to postpone any unnecessary travel, which will keep them safe and help state crews in meeting their missions.”

The heaviest snows are expected to fall during much of the day Wednesday, tapering off overnight as the storm heads east across the commonwealth.

Beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike imposed a ban on empty straight CDL-weighted trucks, tractors hauling double trailers, tractors hauling empty trailers, trailers pulled by passenger vehicles or pick-up trucks, motorcycles and recreational vehicles, or RVs, on:

  • Interstate 76, the Schuylkill Expressway and the east-west Turnpike mainline.
  • Interstates 276 and 476, a portion of the mainline Turnpike in Bucks County and the entire Northeastern Extension.
  • Interstate 476 between the Turnpike and Interstate 95.
  • Interstate 676 (entire length)
  • Interstate 176 (entire length)
  • Interstate 95 (entire length)
  • Interstate 78 (entire length)
  • Interstate 80 from the New Jersey line to the junction with Interstate 81.
  • Interstate 81 from the Maryland line to the junction with Interstate 80.
  • Interstate 99 (entire length)
  • Interstate 79 from the Turnpike to Interstate 80.

In addition, at the same time, PennDOT imposed a full ban on commercial vehicles was imposed on:

  • Interstate 70, from the Maryland line to the Turnpike.
  • Interstate 83 (entire length)
  • Interstate 84 (entire length)
  • Interstate 380 (entire length)

The commercial ban was extended to the length of Interstate 78 at 9:30 p.m.

The actions were taken based on rapidly changing forecasts and to allow advance notice to the trucking industry. New York and New Jersey have imposed similar commercial traffic bans since then. Relief routes on Interstates 80 and 81 were available for commercial trucks.

A commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle used for commerce and meets one of the following conditions:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 17,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation.
  • Is a school bus.
  • Is transporting hazardous materials which is required to be placarded in accordance with department regulations.

Restrictions will remain in place as long as conditions warrant. As conditions develop, speed restrictions will be considered on these routes. A 45 MPH restriction is in place for the East/West mainline of the Turnpike (I-76/70 and 276) from Ohio to NJ and the entire Northeastern Extension (I-476), and interstates and expressways in south central Pennsylvania, and the five county Philadelphia region. If the forecast changes, PennDOT and the Turnpike will quickly review and possibly adjust or lift the restrictions.

Similar speed restrictions are also in place for Interstate 78 and U.S. 22 in the Lehigh Valley, Interstate 80 in western Pennsylvania, Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County and Interstate 79 in northwestern Pennsylvania.

More than 450 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers are either notified, on standby, or are staging for possible missions with no assigned missions as of this 10 a.m.

If traveling during severe winter weather, motorists should make sure their gas tank is full and they pack an emergency kit, which should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel, and warm clothes. Remember also any special needs, such as baby food, pet supplies or medications.

When and if queues form and roadways are expected to be closed for long periods because of crashes and other traffic disruptions, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency can activate the 511PAConnect system to establish contact via cellphone to trapped motorists.

Motorists are reminded that roadways will not be free of snow while precipitation is falling. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning. Motorists should leave plenty of space – six car lengths — when following a truck that is plowing or spreading winter materials. Also, reduced speeds are a must when traveling during snow events.

While PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway 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 850 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.

Pennsylvania State Troopers are mobilized to respond to crashes and disabled vehicles resulting from the storm. PSP asks people to limit travel today so as not to put themselves, other drivers, or first responders at risk unnecessarily.

Remember to call 9-1-1 to report an emergency. Police, fire, and EMS will respond as soon as possible.

“I cannot stress enough the importance for everyone to heed weather forecasts, listen to directions from emergency officials, and plan accordingly,” Gov. Wolf said.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reports that as of 10 a.m., there are no major power outages affecting customers in the commonwealth. The PUC provides these utility storm tips:

  • Call your utility hotline to report outages.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 to report power outages unless there is a hazardous situation, like sparking lines, fire, or down power lines across a road.  For emergencies, call 9-1-1, and then call your utility.
  • Do not touch or approach any fallen lines, and don’t attempt to remove tree limbs or other objects touching power lines.
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