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Wolf Administration Provides Update on Winter Storm; Governor Issues Disaster Emergency

02/01/2021

Harrisburg, PA – Earlier today, Governor Tom Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster emergency for the ongoing severe winter weather event impacting the commonwealth. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Melissa Batula and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield also provided an update on response to the winter storm moving through Pennsylvania throughout the day and overnight.

“We are in the middle of one of the most impactful statewide storms we’ve had in a long time,” said Batula. “This is truly an all-hands-on-deck situation, and our crews are working hard to keep roads safe and passable.”

“Throughout the storm, PEMA is working with our state and county partners to make sure we have a clear understanding of the storm and how it is affecting different parts of the state,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “We are particularly concerned with shipment and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, so we appreciate citizens who are taking this storm seriously and staying off the roads because fewer vehicles means fewer incidents that could delay those operations.”

In response to this winter event, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) have implemented restrictions on trucks and other vehicles on roadways throughout the state, and additional speed and vehicle restrictions may be implemented as conditions warrant.

The following roadways have Tier 1 restrictions in place:

  • Interstate 70 in both directions from the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) to the Maryland state line;
  • Interstate 76 (Schuylkill Expressway) from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the New Jersey border;
  • Interstate 95 from the Delaware border to the New Jersey border;
  • Interstate 476 from Interstate 95 to the PA Turnpike Northeast Extension; and
  • Interstate 676 from Interstate 76 to the New Jersey border.

Under Tier 1 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 unloaded or lightly loaded tandem trailers;
  • 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 not carrying chains or Alternate Traction Devices (ATD’s); and
  • Motorcycles.

The following roadways have Tier 3 restrictions in place:

  • Interstate 76 (PA Turnpike mainline) from Breezewood (Exit 161) to Harrisburg East (Exit 247);
  • Interstate 76/276/95 (PA Turnpike mainline) between Valley Forge (Exit 236) and the New Jersey border;
  • Interstate 476 (PA Turnpike Northeast Extension) between Mid-County (Exit 20) and Lehigh Valley (Exit 56).

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.) that are towing trailers are not permitted on affected roadways while restrictions are in place.

The following roadways have Tier 4 restrictions in place:

  • Route 22 from Interstate 78 to the New Jersey border;
  • Route 33 from Interstate 78 to Interstate 80;
  • The entire length of Interstate 78 in both directions;
  • Interstate 80 from Interstate 99 to Interstate 81;
  • The entire length of Interstate 81 in both directions;
  • The entire length of Interstate 83 in both directions;
  • The entire length of Interstate 84 in both directions;
  • The entire length of Interstate 283 in both directions;
  • The entire length of Interstate 380 in both directions.
  • Interstate 476 (PA Turnpike Northeast Extension) from Lehigh Valley (Exit 56) to Clarks Summit (Exit 131).

On roadways with Tier 4 restrictions in place, no commercial vehicles are permitted. Additionally, all school buses, commercial buses, motor coaches, motorcycles, RVs/motorhomes and passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) that are towing trailers are not permitted on affected roadways while restrictions are in place.

Restrictions will be communicated via variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website at www.511PA.com and smartphone apps. Motorists can also sign up for alerts on www.511PA.com by clicking on “Personal Alerts” in the left-hand menu. Subscribe to regional PennDOT updates by visiting www.PennDOT.gov and click on “Regional Offices.”

Motorists are urged to avoid travel during the storm if possible. But if travel is necessary, use caution, reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions. High winds and freezing temperatures are expected during this event, so motorists should be aware of blowing and drifting snow, which can cause icy areas on roadways, including overpasses and bridges. 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.

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 1,000 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.

For more information on safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video, visit www.PennDOT.gov/winter. Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at www.PennDOT.gov/safety.

Follow the conversation by using #PAWinter on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews and visit the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDepartmentofTransportation.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Alexis Campbell, PennDOT, alecampbel@pa.gov
Ruth Miller, PEMA, ruthmiller@pa.gov

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