PennDOT imposes restrictions on highways during storm

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PennDOT prepares roads ahead of storm: Christie Ileto reports on Action News at 11 p.m., March 20, 2018 (WPVI)

With snow falling across a wide area of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation imposed a series of restrictions on most interstates as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

PennDOT 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 across the state, which includes the Schuylkill Expressway and the East-West Pennsylvania Turnpike;
Interstate 95 (entire length);
Interstates 276 and 476, a portion of the mainline Turnpike in southeastern Pennsylvania and the entire Northeastern Extension;
Interstate 476 between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 95;
Interstate 676 (entire length);
Interstate 78 (entire length);
Interstate 79 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Interstate 80;
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); and
Interstate 176 (entire length).

In addition, also beginning at 8 PM, a full ban on commercial vehicles was imposed on:

Interstate 70, from the Maryland line to the Pennsylvania Turnpike;
Interstate 83 (entire length);
Interstate 84 (entire length); and

Interstate 380 (entire length).

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 8 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. If the forecast changes, PennDOT will quickly review and possibly adjust or lift the restrictions.

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 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 driving in severe weather, motorists should follow these protocols:

always travel at a safe speed for conditions, no matter what the posted limit is;
allow plenty of space when driving near plow trucks; and

never pass a truck that is actively plowing or spreading salt.

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PennDOT says ready for nor'easter: Sarah Bloomquist reports on Action News at 5 p.m., March 20, 2018

The flakes are starting to fly. At the PennDOT salt yard in Norristown, plow crews are loading up with salt and getting ready to hit area roads. They've already brined major stretches of highway and some salting operations are underway.

"Right now, our crews are out. They're spreading. Keeping the roads wet where it's icing," said Bob Kennedy of PennDOT. "I just monitored our Western county, Chester County. We have temps anywhere from 28 to 33 degrees, road temps from 31 to 34 degrees, so right now we're holding pretty good."
But by tomorrow, the snow is expected to be falling fast - and the plows will be out- in some cases- operating in teams. Any motorists on the roads should keep clear. Better yet, stay off the roads if you can.

"We'll switch from a one or two trucks and we'll do what's called a plow train. They'll put 3,4,5,6,7 trucks across say I-95 and just go right down the road clearing the thing," said Kennedy "Please don't try to pass the plow trucks."

This is the fourth nor'easter in recent weeks. PennDOT has plenty of salt still available even though the calendar now says it's spring.

"Some of our biggest events actually came in late March or early, so we're prepared for it - the trucks and the salt," said Kennedy.

With heavy snow and wind in the forecast, PennDOT is also prepared for any trees that might come down like we saw in some of the prior nor'easters this month.
They have tree contractors and other crews ready to go just in case.

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