UPDATE 1/31: There is a travel ban on I-90 for tractor trailers from exit 46 to the PA line due to weather conditions.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is advising motorists to closely monitor weather forecasts and conditions as a storm system is anticipated to impact most of the state, with many areas expected to see precipitation during the Tuesday rush hours.
The storm will bring freezing temps, precipitation and snow to the midwest and northeast and is forecast to be followed by a brutal cold front that could bring icy conditions and sudden snow squalls.
Additionally, the FMCSA has expanded its emergency declaration from Jan. 18 to include 22 states in the Midwest and Northeast.
“While many parts of the state may not see significant accumulations, it is critical to always be mindful of conditions and keep safety top of mind when driving in inclement weather,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “Our crews are prepared to take on these conditions, and we call on the public to allow themselves extra time, drive according to conditions, and postpone travel if necessary.”
Due to potential snowfall rates and accumulations, PennDOT and the PA Turnpike are prohibiting empty tractor trailers and commercial vehicles pulling double trailers, RV/motorhomes, and motorcycles on the following Interstates beginning at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, January 29, and tentatively lifting (condition-dependent) at 6 p.m. on the same day:
- Interstate 380 full length from I-81 to I-80;
- I-78 full length from I-81 to the New Jersey state line;
- I-80 from I-180 to the New Jersey state line;
- I-81 from I-83 to the New York state line;
- I-84 full length from I-81 to the New York state line; and
- I-476 (PA Turnpike, Northeast Ext.) from I-78 to Clarks Summit (exit 131).
See a map of vehicle restrictions going into effect tomorrow at www.penndot.gov. This map is also provided below. Speed restrictions on Interstates and expressways may be implemented as the storm progresses.
To help make decisions regarding winter travel, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.
Motorists should be aware that all vehicles should be fully clear of ice and snow before winter travel. If snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of that vehicle could receive a $200 to $1,000 fine.
When winter weather occurs, PennDOT urges drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:
- Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
- Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
- When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
- Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
- Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see, and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
- Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.
In addition to driving safely around plows, motorists are urged to drive according to conditions. If motorists encounter snow or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase their following distance and avoid distractions. Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 440 crashes resulting in 221 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.
PennDOT has created a Winter Safety media center, including social-media-sized graphics highlighting winter driving preparations and operations at www.penndot.gov in the “Media Center” under the “About Us” footer.
More States Take Action
22 states are included in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration emergency declaration.
Truck drivers hauling heating fuels, including propane, natural gas, and heating oil, and other fuel products, including gasoline, into the affected states providing necessary relief will be exempt from hours of service regulations through Feb. 2, or until the end of the emergency, whichever is less.
States included in the declaration are: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that tractor trailers and commercial buses will be banned from certain highways in Western New beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 and on portions of the Interstate 81 corridor beginning Wednesday, Jan. 30 at noon as heavy snows and frigid temperatures are expected to impact several parts of the state. Most areas in the path of the storm will see 6 to 8 inches of snow, with the exception of areas that typically experience lake effect snow, including southern Erie County, the Chautauqua Ridge in Western New York, and the Tug Hill Plateau in Northern New York that could see significantly higher amounts of snow through Friday morning.
Beginning at noon Wednesday, tractor trailers and commercial buses will be banned on Interstate 81 in New York from the Canadian Border to State Route 104.
There is a travel ban on I-90 for tractor trailers from exit 46 to the PA line due to weather conditions.
The Indiana Toll Road issued a travel ban from noon today through noon Tuesday. Prohibited are triple tractor-trailers, long-doubles (high-profile only), high-profile oversize permit loads.