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   

  Contacts:  Kathy Liebler (717) 939-9551 Ext. 2840
                    Joe Agnello (724) 755-5262

June 29,1999


Attention: Voice actualities related to this news release are available
by calling TIBS, the Turnpike Information Broadcast Service at 1-800-563-5425. 


Harrisburg (PA) – The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will modify construction activities for the long Independence Day weekend so that all of its 506-mile superhighway system is as free flowing as possible for holiday travelers.

Officials estimate the Turnpike will serve more than two million vehicles between 3 pm Wednesday, June 30 and 6 am Tuesday, July 6, the period during which roadwork will be eased.

"This traditional start of the summer travel season is one of our busiest weeks of the year," said Turnpike Executive Director John T. Durbin. "Safety and convenience are paramount. There are a few spots where roadwork-related barriers must remain in place and travel lanes will be narrowed. But for the most part, the Turnpike will have all lanes open to traffic."

Capt. Richard A. Stein, who commands Troop T of the Pennsylvania State Police, reminds drivers and riders to use their seat belts. He also urges drivers to ensure that child passengers are properly restrained. Children up to age four must ride in a properly installed safety seat in the back seat. Youngsters four and up must use seatbelts in the back seat. It is unlawful for a child to ride in the front seat.

Police will be out in force, many in unmarked vehicles, watching for speeders and aggressive drivers. Speed limit enforcement will include more Operation Centipede strategies, which are designed to detect motorists who slow when they spot a patrol car but regain an unlawful speed when they think they are out of radar range.

"This is a time to step up your focus if you’re behind the wheel," Stein said. "There’s going to be a lot of traffic. Give yourself plenty of time and try to keep space between your vehicle and others. If you’re on a long trip, pull off and refresh. The Turnpike’s 22 service plazas are open 24 hours a day."

Turnpike safety patrols will be on duty throughout the period. Turnpike maintenance units also will be available to assist customers on Friday evening and again on Monday afternoon and evening. Emergency call boxes are located at one-mile intervals. Motorists also can contact the Turnpike Operations Center directly from a cellular phone, toll-free, by dialing *11 (star-one-one) for emergency assistance.

Barring emergency repairs or accidents, one area on the Turnpike system where traffic will be restricted to single lanes is a bridge over U.S. Route 11 on the Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) in the Scranton area, between the Wyoming Valley Interchange #34 and the Keyser Avenue Interchange #38. This area of one lane each direction extends about one-half mile.

Also, a single-lane restriction at the Pittsburgh/Monroeville interchange (#6) that has been in place since May 11 for a bridge replacement project will remain in place throughout the holiday weekend. Traffic exiting the Turnpike at Exit 6 to access Interstate 376 or Business Route 22 West is being channeled into a single lane rather than the normal two lanes after passing through toll collection.

Ten lanes will be open at the Northeast Extension’s Lehigh Valley interchange (#33) near Allentown, which is undergoing an expansion from eight to 13 lanes. In eastern Westmoreland County, where a five-mile stretch of the original Turnpike between Milepost 94 and Milepost 99 is being totally rebuilt, one eastbound lane will remain closed but two will remain open. The normal configuration in this area is three lanes eastbound and two lanes westbound.

Farmers’ Markets will be open Saturday and Sunday at the Sideling Hill (Milepost 172.3, eastbound and westbound), Valley Forge (Milepost 324.6, eastbound), New Stanton (Milepost 77.6, westbound) and Allentown (Milepost 35.9 on the Northeast Extension, northbound and southbound) service plazas.


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