|COMMISSION NEWS RELEASE|
|Pa. Turnpike Prepares for Heavy Traffic in Laurel Highlands and Beyond this Weekend - Alternate Directions Available
Dedication of Flight 93 Memorial and multiple other events expected to cause traffic delays.
|HARRISBURG, PA (09/07/2011)(readMedia)-- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is gearing up for heavier-than-normal traffic volumes throughout the Laurel Highlands and points beyond this weekend due to the Flight 93 Memorial dedication events and other public events scheduled across the region. As a result, the commission is staffing up and restricting road work so that all lanes will be available. Also, officials are advising motorists to be prepared for likely travel delays and consider alternate routes.
"We're basically handling the period from Friday through Monday like we would a major travel holiday," said Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig R. Shuey. "In addition to the Flight 93 dedication, we are aware of a number of other events in the region all happening this weekend, including a Penn State home football game. So we are coordinating closely with PennDOT, PEMA and other agencies to get ready."
Roadwork will be restricted on a 185-mile stretch where traffic is likely to be the heaviest. All Pa. Turnpike travel lanes will remain open between the Pittsburgh Interchange (Exit No. 57) to the Harrisburg West Interchange (Exit No. 242) starting at 6 a.m. on Sept. 9 until 8 p.m. on Sept. 12.
Extra State Police patrols will be on hand in the affected areas, and increased toll-plaza staffing will help keep traffic flowing at exit. Added Turnpike maintenance personnel - including the State Farm Safety Patrols - will be on duty to assist with motorist breakdowns, debris removal, traffic control, and other duties as needed.
In addition, the Turnpike has postponed the closure of its South Somerset Travel Plaza. The facility, which serves eastbound traffic two miles east of the Somerset Exit, was set to close Sept. 6 so that crews could demolish and rebuild the 70-year-old travel plaza. But plaza operators have agreed to keep it open a week longer to accommodate weekend visitors.
"I want to express our gratitude to our travel-plaza partners, HMS Host Corp. and Sunoco Inc., for their willingness to make this important accommodation," Shuey said. "Like us, they truly believe that making things run smoothly this weekend is more than just an operational objective - it's a patriotic duty."
Travelers who intend to access the Flight 93 site or any other events this weekend are strongly advised to leave ample travel time and plan ahead. Understand that delays are likely to occur in this area – especially on Saturday and Sunday between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. The Pa. Turnpike Commission expects stacking of exiting traffic to occur at the Somerset and Bedford exits -- the two exits most travelers will likely use to get to Shanksville, Pa.
All motorists are strongly cautioned to be alert for slow-moving or stopped traffic near the Breezewood, Bedford and Somerset exits and be especially watchful for motorcycles and groups of motorcyclists bound for the memorial-dedication ceremonies.
The commission advises motorists to consider using a different Turnpike exit as an alternate. It is supplying the below directions at www.paturnpike.com and also as printed handouts at the tollbooths of interchanges listed below:
From Points West
• Take the Donegal Exit (No. 91) off the Turnpike; turn left on to State Route 31, then left onto State Route 711. Drive north on Route 711 for 12.2 miles. Turn right onto Route 30 east for 28 miles. The entrance to the Flight 93 Memorial is on the right just past Johnson Bottom Road (State Game Lands 93 on the left).
• Take the New Stanton Exit (No. 75) off the Turnpike; follow signs for Route 119 north toward Youngwood. Travel 5 miles on Route 119 north. Turn left on to the ramp for U.S. 30 East. Travel 42 miles on U.S. 30 east. The entrance to the Flight 93 Memorial is on the right just past Johnson Bottom Road (State Game Lands 93 on the left).
• Take the Irwin Exit (No. 67) off the Turnpike; follow signs for U.S. 30 east. Turn right on to U.S. 30 east. Travel 51.4 miles on U.S. 30. The entrance to the Flight 93 Memorial is on the right just past Johnson Bottom Road (State Game Lands 93 on the left).
From Points East
• Take the Somerset Exit (No. 110) off the Turnpike; follow signs for Route 281 north. Turn left onto Route 281 north and proceed 1.7 miles to U.S. 219 north. Turn right on to U.S. 219 and travel 8.7 miles north on U.S. 219 to the Stoystown/Jennerstown/U.S. 30 exit. Turn right on U.S. 30 east. Travel 8.5 miles on U.S. 30. The entrance to the Flight 93 Memorial is on the right just past Johnson Bottom Road (State Game Lands 93 on the left).
• Take the Bedford Exit (No. 146) off the Turnpike; at Turnpike light (Sheetz), turn left. Go to the next light, turn left onto 220 south. Follow 220 south to the next exit (U.S. 30 west). Follow U.S. 30 west approximately 23.5 miles (1.5 miles beyond Buckstown). The entrance to the Flight 93 Memorial is on the left just before Johnson Bottom Road (State Game Lands 93 on the right).
• Take the Breezewood Exit (No. 161) off the Turnpike. Follow signs to U.S. 30 west. Follow U.S. 30 west approximately 40.5 miles. The entrance to the Flight 93 Memorial is on the left just before Johnson Bottom Road (State Game Lands 93 on the right).
Turnpike travelers can get up-to-date information by calling 1-866-976-TRIP (8747). This toll-free number gives audio advisories for the region in which you are traveling, including delays and closures due to accidents or bad weather. Online, the Interactive Travel Map at www.paturnpike.com/webmap delivers a snapshot of conditions across the Turnpike, including traffic cams, at-a-glance traffic-flow status, weather conditions, audio advisories and more.