Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information


C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E   

 

Contact:    Christina M. Hampton, (610) 292-3785     

November 19, 1998
 
ATTENTION RADIO STATIONS:
Voice Actualities related to this news release
are available. Please call TIBS, the Turnpike’s
Information Broadcast Service at 1-800-563-5425.

 

PA TURNPIKE READY FOR THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY/WINTER WEATHER
Adds New State-of-the-Art Winter Maintenance Equipment to Arsenal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - - The Pennsylvania Turnpike is gearing up for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the most heavily traveled weekend of the year. Turnpike officials anticipate 1.9 million motorists (a 3% increase over 1997) will travel the Turnpike over the official Thanksgiving holiday beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, November 25 and ending midnight Sunday, November 29. Last year over 1.8 million vehicles traveled the Turnpike over the holiday weekend.

Turnpike construction and maintenance activities have been scheduled to provide maximum use of the road during the Thanksgiving holiday period. Four lanes of traffic will be maintained on the entire 506-mile highway.

Oversized and overweight vehicles will be banned on the Turnpike from sundown Tuesday, November 24 to sunrise Monday, November 30. The restriction applies to all vehicles exceeding any of the following dimensions of weight; 10 feet wide, 85 feet long, 13 feet high, and 100,000 pounds gross weight.

Maintenance crews, safety patrols, and the Pennsylvania State Police will be increasing their forces over the holiday period to assist stranded motorists on the highway.

Should the holiday forecast include snow, sleet or freezing rain Turnpike maintenance crews are prepared to respond 24-hours-a-day at a moments notice to clear the highway, keeping it open and safe for travelers. They will be armed with over 45,000 tons of rock salt, 44,000 tons of anti-skid material, 58,000 gallons of liquid calcium, 250 dump-trucks equipped with spreaders and snow plows, 45 front end loaders, and 7 heavy-duty snowblowers.

In addition, 10 new Zero Velocity Spreaders have been added to the Turnpike’s arsenal of winter maintenance equipment. The Zero Velocity Spreader blows material (pre-wet rock salt) out the back of a truck in the opposite direction and at precisely the same speed as the trucks’ travel speed. Turnpike Director of Maintenance Robert Wallet said, "This improves safety for the Turnpike operator as well as the Turnpike motorist, because it reduces the difference in speed between the salt truck and surrounding traffic."

Turnpike Executive Director John T. Durbin said, "No matter what the weather brings, we are prepared to provide our customers with the highest level of service and the safest roadway possible." Our Thanksgiving wish is that all who travel our highway arrive at their destinations safe and sound."

Turnpike safety officials recommend drivers be sensible about holiday travel and plan ahead. They advise travelers get a good night’s sleep, allow themselves extra time to reach their destinations, have their vehicles winterized, require all passengers buckle-up, and insure that all infants and toddlers under the age of four are properly secured in an approved child safety seat.

State Police Troop T Commanding Officer Captain Richard A. Stein said, "We are urging motorists to buckle-up, obey the speed limit, remain alert, drive cautiously, and be courteous to other drivers." In addition to patrolling for speeders, troopers will be looking for drivers who appear to be sleepy or intoxicated.

On Wednesday, November 25, troopers from Troop T’s King of Prussia barracks will be conducting child safety seat restraint inspections at the Turnpike’s King of Prussia Service Plaza as part of the Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles Up Children National Safety Campaign in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Informational brochures on air bag safety, and child safety restraints, as well as free coloring books, magnets, stickers and pencils will be available to travelers at the plaza.

As part of the Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles Up Children Safety Campaign, state police throughout the Philadelphia region of the Turnpike will be participating in the largest ever coordinated crackdown on drivers who don’t buckle up children. They will be looking for unbuckled or improperly restrained children under the age of four. Lieutenant Thomas Traister, eastern section commander Troop T ‘s King of Prussia barracks said, "As people set out for their Thanksgiving holiday to visit family and friends, they’ll see us. Our message is simple: The law requires that all children under the age of four must be buckled up at all times. If they’re not, drivers will get a ticket."

Before departing for their destinations, travelers should call the Turnpike’s toll free weather line at 1-(800) 331-3414 for Turnpike roadway and weather conditions.

The Turnpike’s 22 service plazas will be open 24-hours to provide relief for weary motorists in need of restrooms, gas, and food.

Bright yellow emergency call boxes located every mile both east and westbound along the Turnpike should be used by motorists who experience breakdowns, accidents, or other incidents. Help can also be called by dialing star one-one (*-1-1) on a cellular phone or utilizing the toll-free emergency number posted on all pay phones at Turnpike service plazas.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission extends wishes for safe and happy holiday season to all travelers.

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 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649