Pennsylvania Turnpike officials expect more than 2.1 million vehicles will travel the Turnpike during the four-day Labor Day weekend, a slight increase over last year's count of 2.05 million cars and trucks. To make best use of all available travel lanes, most Turnpike construction and maintenance activities will be suspended from today at 3 p.m. until next Wednesday Sept. 8 at 6 a.m.
Isolated, nighttime lane restrictions may occur on a few paving projects starting next Tuesday night at 10 p.m. through Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., but this off-peak work is not expected to impact traffic. Other construction activity that does not impact travel lanes may continue behind barriers reducing shoulder widths, but at least two lanes in each direction will be open except for emergencies.
Turnpike motorists should watch for delays and congestion at interchanges during peak travel times on Friday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Monday between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Drivers should remain alert and cautious, particularly during peak periods.
State Police Cpl. Richard Dean, public information officer for Troop T, the unit responsible for patrolling the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said that patrols and enforcement efforts will be increased to ensure holiday-traveler safety. Troop T will especially be on the lookout for aggressive drivers.
"Speeding and other aggressive behaviors are primary causes of highway crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania," said Cpl. Dean. "Aggressive drivers not only jeopardize their own safety, they put their passengers and other travelers at a higher risk of an accident and possible injury."
To promote Labor Day safety, the Turnpike is sponsoring Safety Break events at its busiest travel plazas on Friday Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The events, which will focus on aggressive-driving awareness, will be held at the Allentown Service Plaza on the Northeastern Extension and the Sideling Hill Service Plaza on the east-west mainline.
"It can be a challenge to get motorists to change behavior when some don't even know they're aggressive drivers," said the Turnpike's Manager of Customer Safety Joseph L. Rispoli. "If you speed excessively, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic or pass illegally on the right, you're most likely an aggressive driver and need to reevaluate your conduct behind the wheel."
Rispoli said that eyewitnesses should immediately report aggressive driving by dialing *-11 while traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) members will also join in the Safety Break by providing blind-spot trailers and drivers. In addition, the American Trucking Associations will send an America's Road Team captain and the Share the Road truck. Visitors will be able to see illustrations of the blind spots and sit in a truck to gain a commercial driver's perspective.
The Allentown plaza is between the Lehigh Valley and Quakertown exits on I-476 (Northeastern Extension) and the Sideling Hill facility is between the Breezewood and Fort Littleton exits on I-76 (mainline Turnpike). The two travel plazas, which were renovated and reopened in 2008, are accessible to traffic from both directions.
Labor Day travelers are encouraged to plan ahead before traveling by calling the Turnpike Roadway Information line, 866-976-TRIP (8747) for real-time traffic alerts or visiting the Turnpike's live Travel Conditions Map online at www.paturnpike.com .
Throughout the weekend, Turnpike maintenance crews and safety patrols will monitor the highway, ready to assist travelers in case of an accident or breakdown. To report an accident or incident, Turnpike customers should call the traffic-operations center directly by dialing *-11 (or 1-800-332-3880) on a mobile phone or activating one of the yellow emergency call boxes along the roadway.