HARRISBURG, PA (05/20/2015) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) anticipates an increase in traffic over the four-day Memorial Day holiday as compared to last year. Approximately 2.2 million vehicles are expected on the Turnpike over the holiday weekend. The heaviest traffic is expected on Friday, May 22 with 700,000 vehicles predicted to hit the Turnpike.
“Memorial Day is one of the heaviest traveled holidays of the year for the Turnpike, and we expect our service plazas to be busy,” says PTC CEO Mark Compton. “North Midway Service Plaza is now completely rebuilt and will be open for the holiday rush, which means all but one of the 17 Turnpike service plazas are renovated and open for business.”
North Midway Service Plaza, which opens May 21 at 7 a.m., is accessible to westbound motorists at milepost 147 in Bedford County. The newly renovated plaza will feature an expanded Sunoco A-plus convenience store with various food options including a Subway restaurant. There is also a Starbucks, plus indoor and outdoor seating. The last remaining plaza to be renovated is Valley Forge Service Plaza in Chester County, which is accessible to eastbound traffic at milepost 324.6. The Valley Forge plaza is scheduled to open in August.
To make driving easier for holiday travelers, the Turnpike plans to suspend maintenance work and have all lanes in each direction available for traffic beginning at 3 p.m. on May 21 and ending at 6 a.m. on May 27. In the event of emergency, the Turnpike will activate its Variable Message Signs and Highway Advisory System (1640 AM) to inform motorists of conditions. Motorists should obey posted speed limits and move over for stopped emergency vehicles.
“Drivers need to pay attention and obey the speed limits, especially in work zones. With so many people traveling this holiday weekend, it’s more important than ever to travel at a safe speed, don’t tailgate and definitely don’t text and drive,” says Lt. David L. Cain acting commander of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop T, the troop in charge of Turnpike patrols.
To promote safe driving, the PTC is holding a Safety Break event at the Allentown Service Plaza in Lehigh County to enlighten drivers on the dangers of distracted driving and provide information about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Safety Break will be held May 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Allentown plaza, which is at milepost 55.9 on the Northeastern Extension and is accessible to both southbound and northbound travelers.
The Turnpike will host more Safety Break events throughout the summer and fall. The other dates and locations are: June 19, Peter J. Camiel Service Plaza, Chester County; July 2, South Midway Plaza, Bedford County; July 31, Hickory Run Service Plaza, Carbon County; Sept. 4, Sideling Hill Service Plaza, Fulton County; Oct. 16, Oakmont Service Plaza, Allegheny County and Nov. 25, Sideling Hill Service Plaza Fulton County. All events are from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The plaza overhauls were made possible by a 30-year, public-private redevelopment initiative launched in 2006 when the Turnpike finalized agreements with Bethesda, Md.-based HMSHost Corp. and Sunoco Inc. of Philadelphia. Under the contracts, HMSHost Corp. committed $100 million to rebuild 17 plazas, and Sunoco is investing $70 million to redevelop the service stations and convenience stores.
Turnpike travelers can save time and money by getting E-ZPass. To find a retail location, go to www.paturnpike.com/ezpass. Travelers wanting real-time roadway information can call 866-976-TRIP (8747) or visit the online Travel Conditions Map at www.paturnpike.com/webmap. The smartphone app, TRIP Talk, streams audio advisories to iPhone and Droid users so they can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. To download the free app, visit www.paturnpike.com/triptalk.
To report emergencies while travelling the Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone or deploy one of the call boxes on the shoulder. Be ready to provide your milepost location when calling *11.