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:  

Joe Agnello, (724) 755-5262, (724) 755-5142 fax
e-mail: jagnello@paturnpike.com

December 1, 2000

 

COMMISSIONER JIM DODARO PRESSES FOR SAFETY ENHANCEMENTS 
ON TURNPIKE BETWEEN NEW STANTON AND BREEZEWOOD

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Vice Chairman James J. Dodaro announced today that he will continue to push several initiatives he believes will contribute to a "safer travel environment" between New Stanton and Breezewood.

The 86-mile stretch of Americaís First Superhighway is part of the original 159-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike that opened in October 1940. It carries a high volume of big trucks, largely because of its dual designation as Interstate 76 and Interstate 70. Its topographic features include challenging curves and mountainous terrain.

Commissioner Dodaro said he will urge his colleagues on the five-member panel to set a 55 MPH speed limit for tractor-trailers over the entire 86 miles. He suggested that the speed limit for cars remain at 65 MPH except in areas now designated as 55 MPH for all vehicles.

In areas where curves and descents are most severe, Commissioner Dodaro said tractor-trailers should be restricted to the right lane only.

"Many drivers of smaller vehicles, especially at night or in bad weather, are scared and intimidated by these tractor-trailers," he stated. "If these drivers know those trucks wonít be pulling into the passing lane, that significantly reduces the intimidation factor."

Commissioner Dodaro also said that if changes are implemented they must be accompanied by stepped up enforcement of traffic laws. Toward that end, he said the Commission must be prepared to support a "24-7" presence of state police.

"I think itís important that all motorists see a state police car every time they travel the Turnpike," he said. "We have to find out what it will take to make this happen and get it done."

Commissioner Dodaroís comments come on the heels of a multi-truck accident Wednesday just east of New Stanton, a news article (Nov. 20) and related editorial (Nov. 25) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about safety on the Turnpike between New Stanton and Breezewood and a similar series of reports that aired recently on KDKA-TV News.

The Turnpike Commission has hired HNTB Architects-Engineers-Planners of Philadelphia to conduct a systemwide analysis of speeds, accidents, safety, and signage. The consulting firm also will be examining traffic impacts of the billion-dollar total reconstruction of the original Turnpike that will be done in phases over the next decade or so.

Commissioner Dodaro, an attorney who resides in White Oak, is the senior member of the board with more than 16 years of service and is the lone member of the Commission from the Pittsburgh region.

"Iím not a traffic engineer and I know we have to get some professional input on these matters before we take action," he stated. "But Iíve traveled the ĎPike for many years and I know what itís like out there. With traffic volumes at record levels and still rising, it is imperative that we put safety first."

Note to media: Commissioner Dodaro can be contacted at his law office at 412-243-1600.

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