|Pa. Turnpike Plans for Heavy Holiday Traffic
Advising motorists to drive safely and be courteous on the roadway.
|The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest travel time of the year, and the Pa. Turnpike is expecting more than 2.6 million drivers on its roadway. The Turnpike will experience its heaviest traffic during the five-day period from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, and turnpike officials are joining with Pennsylvania State Police to encourage motorists to drive safely.
"Thanksgiving is always a busy time for turnpike travel. Family and friends are all heading out at the same time to enjoy the holiday together, so it's important for everyone to be alert and drive safely," said Pa. Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. "Traffic is heavy this time of year, so drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel and be aware of aggressive drivers."
To keep the highway safe, all construction and maintenance work will be modified to allow full use of the roadway; all lanes will be available beginning at 3 p.m. on Nov. 26 until 6 a.m. on Dec. 2, except in case of emergencies. Some construction activity that does not impact lanes may continue behind barriers in limited areas, reducing shoulder widths.
Traffic volumes will be heaviest Wednesday from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m. Motorists should be aware of the probability of slow-moving and periodic stopped traffic throughout the holiday, especially on Wednesday and Sunday. Turnpike maintenance crews, State Farm Safety Patrols, and the Pennsylvania State Police are increasing forces to assist stranded motorists, keep traffic moving and respond to emergencies.
The turnpike's state police troop, which will be patrolling for speeding and aggressive drivers is also stressing to travelers not to text and drive. The law went into effect in March of 2012 and carries a fine with a conviction.
"The point is to be alert and pay attention while driving, especially in such heavy traffic over this holiday season," said Captain Gregory M. Bacher, Commanding Officer of State Police Troop T, the division in charge of Turnpike patrols. “We’ve seen an increase in road rage incidents on the turnpike lately, and with the amount of drivers on the road during Thanksgiving, not everyone is courteous and aware of their surroundings. We will be looking for aggressive drivers to stop that type of behavior.”
Safe driving tips, including driving in winter weather, will be offered to turnpike motorists on Nov. 27 at the Sideling Hill Service Plaza at milepost 172 during a Safety Break from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Commission would also like to remind travelers headed westbound that the Peter J. Camiel Service Plaza at milepost 304 has limited service while undergoing reconstruction. Gasoline is available and the Sunoco convenience store is open. There are also heated restroom trailers available with running water.
Pa. Turnpike travelers can get additional plaza information and real-time roadway conditions via the Turnpike Roadway Information Program, or "TRIP," by visiting www.paturnpike.com or calling 1-866-976-TRIP (8747). Officials advise motorists headed for the turnpike to check conditions before they leave.
Thanksgiving congestion is an ideal reason to take advantage of the award-winning turnpike smartphone app, called TripTalk, available for Droid and iPhone users. TripTalk informs users what’s ahead on the turnpike letting them keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while steering clear of delays caused by holiday backups or accidents.
In case of an accident, breakdown or other emergency, motorists can call for assistance by dialing *11 on their cell phones or by deploying one of the yellow callboxes on the shoulder. Be prepared to give the milepost location and direction of travel, and move the vehicles involved out of active travel lanes if possible.