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Pa. Turnpike Unveils Pilot 70MPH Signs

IThe increased speed limit is currently near the state line, but is also expected to be implemented along two other major interstates in four other counties. (PennDOT)

Pennsylvania moved ahead with steps to make travel more efficient today as the Pa. Turnpike activated its 70 mph speed limit from Blue Mountain (Interchange 201) to Morgantown (Interchange 298) and PennDOT announced it will launch 70 mph pilot projects on a pair of interstates next month.

“As we increase the speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, motorists need to increase their restraint behind the wheel accordingly,” said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Remember, even though we’re increasing the speed limit, motorists still must obey the law and drive safety. After all, 70 mph is the maximum speed, not the mandatory speed.”

The Turnpike’s new 70 mph signs were put in place; it took Turnpike maintenance employees about six hours to switch out 35 speed-limit signs along the 100-mile stretch.

Also today, State Transportation Secretary and Turnpike Commissioner Barry J. Schoch announced that, PennDOT plans to begin piloting a 70-mph speed limit on two interstates:

* 88 miles of Interstate 80 from Exit 101 (DuBois) in Clearfield County to
mile marker 189 in Clinton County; and

* 21 miles of Interstate 380 from Interstate 84 in Lackawanna County to Exit
3 (Pocono Pines/Mt. Pocono) in Monroe County.

“After thorough analysis and reviewing other states’ practices, PennDOT is piloting this speed limit so we can use the data to determine where else the maximum speed could be increased,” Schoch said. “Safety is our top priority in this process, and I urge drivers to obey the speed limit whether they’re in their neighborhood or on an interstate.”

PennDOT will use data collected from the pilot locations while evaluating other 65-mph roadway sections for potential 70-mph implementation in the spring or summer next year. Roadway sections that can safely accommodate the increased speed could start being signed soon after the evaluations are complete.

Compton said the Turnpike’s 70-mph speed limit could be implemented on remaining portions of the 550-plus mile toll road system in 2015.

“This initial 70-mph zone will be monitored for six to eight months to see how the higher speed limit works,” Compton said. “If everything goes well, I’d expect the remainder of the Turnpike will switch over to 70 mph speed where appropriate and safe next spring.”

While much of the 100-mile stretch will be posted at 70 mph, there will be areas where drivers will see reduced speeds, specifically at curves posted at advisory speeds between 60-65 mph. In addition, work zones in the 70 mph zone will be posted at 55 mph – meaning an end to 40 mph work-zone speeds in this section.

“With this increase, we remain committed to protecting the lives of the people traveling as well as the men and women who are working out on the roadways,” said Lt. Edward Murphy of Troop T, the unit in charge of Turnpike patrols. “To ensure motorists heed the 55 mph work-zone speed limit, State Police will be conducting ‘Orange-Squeeze’ operations where troopers run radar inside construction vehicles instead of patrol cars.”

Passed last fall by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Tom Corbett, Act 89 of 2013 enabled the PTC and PennDOT to raise the maximum speed limit on freeways within Pennsylvania to 70 mph. The plan invests an additional $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion into Pennsylvania’s transportation assets by its fifth year.

 

Free Seat Checkups during National Child Passenger Safety Week

State Police and PennDOT are encouraging motorists to participate in

free child passenger safety seat checkups throughout Pennsylvania as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 14 – 20. Additionally, Saturday, Sept. 20, has been designated as “National Seat Check Saturday.”

“I urge all parents and caregivers to not only get their seats checked, but also to
explore all educational materials available to them,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J.
Schoch said. “PennDOT, police departments and safety partners across the state are available year-round to ensure children are legally and correctly restrained.”

PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 145 fitting stations across Pennsylvania – including in Leechburg -, at which more than 5,000 car seats were checked last year. The checkups are designed to teach drivers the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

Another PennDOT-funded resource is “Sit Back – It’s Elementary,” a new elementary school curriculum focused on reducing traffic-related injuries and deaths. Through the in-school program, trained police officers and safety partners educate children on making proper seat-belt use and positioning a habit.

Pennsylvania law requires that children under the age of 4 ride in a
federally-approved car seat that is appropriate for the child’s age, height and
weight. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 must use a booster seat if they are no longer in a car seat.

The state’s seat belt law mandates that children ages 8 to 17 must use a seat belt,
and violating this law is a primary offense. It is a secondary offense for drivers
and front seat passengers age 18 and older to travel unbuckled.

Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride in a vehicle’s back seat.