PA Turnpike, PennDot Anticipate Vehicle Restrictions on Major Highways during Winter Storm

In preparation for a major winter storm event, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) are advising motorists to avoid all unnecessary travel during the storm, and are anticipating that restrictions on trucks and other vehicles will be imposed on certain roadways around the state.

“We have been preparing for winter since the last one ended, and we’re calling on the public to be our partners in safe travel,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Please, avoid traveling and if you must travel, be sure to check travel conditions and give plow operators plenty of space so they can do their jobs safely and effectively.”

“While overall traffic on the PA Turnpike is down by about 30 percent due to the pandemic, we do know that critical commercial traffic continues during this time even during severe weather,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “If you must travel, before heading out, be sure to download the 511PA Smartphone App for real-time, hands-free PA traffic advisories. Speed restrictions and vehicle bans will be used extensively during this storm and you will want to be fully apprised of any changes.”

Effective 1:00 PM on Wednesday, December 16, PennDOT and PTC anticipate that vehicle restrictions will begin to be phased in reflecting Level 1 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan on the following roadways:

  • All northbound and southbound miles of Route 33;
  • Interstate 76 (Schuylkill Expressway) from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Interstate 95;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 78;
  • Interstate 80 from Interstate 99 to the New Jersey border;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 81;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 83;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 84;
  • Interstate 95 from the Delaware border to the New Jersey border;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 283;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 380;
  • Interstate 476 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Interstate 95;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 676;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 295;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the Breezewood interchange to the New Jersey border; and
  • All northbound and southbound miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) from Interstate 76 to the Clark Summit interchange.

Under Level 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; and
  • motorcycles.

Effective 4:00 PM on Wednesday, December 16, PennDOT and PTC anticipate that vehicle restrictions will begin to be phased in reflecting Level 3 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan will on the following roadways:

  • All northbound and southbound miles of Route 33;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 78;
  • Interstate 80 from Interstate 99 to the New Jersey border;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 81;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 83;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 84;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles of Interstate 283;
  • All northbound and southbound miles of Interstate 380;
  • Interstate 476 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Interstate 95;
  • All eastbound and westbound miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the Breezewood interchange to the New Jersey border; and
  • All northbound and southbound miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) from Interstate 76 to the Clark Summit interchange.

On roadways with Level 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.

Speed limits would be restricted to 45 mph on these roadways for all vehicles while the vehicle restrictions are in place, and commercial vehicles not affected by the bans must move to the right lane. Additional speed restrictions on other interstates could be added depending on changing conditions.

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.

PennDOT is urging motorists to use caution during the event and generally reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions. Heavy winds and blowing/drifting snow is expected with this storm, and motorists always should be alert for sudden squalls which can strike with little or no warning and quickly cause roads to become snow covered. Heavy squalls also can cause whiteout conditions, virtually eliminating a driver’s visibility.