HIGHSPIRE, PA — Approximately 4.55 million vehicles are expected to travel the PA Turnpike’s 550-mile roadway from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. Typically, the Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. About 90 percent of all holiday travel is by car. Most of the traffic is expected to be spread out over the holiday week. The heaviest days are anticipated to be Dec. 23 and Dec. 27-30 with about 550,000 vehicles projected each of those days.
The PA Turnpike expects good weather for most of the holiday period. However, a wintry mix of variable precipitation consisting of rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow is slated early the morning of Dec. 24 in the region of the Laurel Highlands and the Northeastern Extension. Turnpike maintenance and the State Farm Safety advisors — made up of Turnpike vehicles staffed by Turnpike workers —will patrol the roadway assisting motorists as needed.
“Just as we plan holiday time spent with family and friends, it is equally as important to plan for a safe trip,” said Mark Compton, PA Turnpike Chief Executive Officer. “We want to be part of those plans and enable motorists to get to their destinations safely. In addition to planning ahead, we encourage them to keep a half-full gas tank, stay alert for changing roadway conditions and access our communications tools.”
During the holiday all construction and maintenance work will be suspended to allow full use of the roadway; all lanes will be available starting 5 a.m. Dec. 23 until 11 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2017 except in the case of emergencies. Additionally, State Police Troop T, the division in charge of PA Turnpike patrols, will deploy additional patrols to stop drunk drivers, speeders and aggressive motorists. “With heavy traffic and the possibility of wintry weather, it’s imperative to pay attention, drive at a safe speed, and keep enough distance between vehicles,” said Commanding Officer of State Police Troop T, Captain Paul S. Gustaitis.
The Turnpike also reminds drivers to heed Pennsylvania's "Steer Clear" law which requires drivers to slow down or move over when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop or disabled vehicle. Drivers must move over or slow down for all responders, including police, fire and ambulance as well as stopped tow trucks and maintenance vehicles.
To report an accident or other emergencies on the PA Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone. To learn more about PA Turnpike conditions or to contact us, use one of these resources:
ON THE PA TURNPIKE
Variable & Digital Message Signs — nearly 100 signs along the Turnpike
Highway Advisory Radio — 1640 AM (tune-in near interchanges)
ON THE WEB
TRIPTalk — free, travel-alert smartphone app; download at https://www.paturnpike.com/travel/trip_talk.aspx
Travel Conditions Map — live, inactive conditions map; view at https://www.paturnpike.com/webmap
Waze — a crowd-sourced navigation app that provides real-time traffic conditions with input from other drivers; download at https://www.waze.com