The Pennsylvania Turnpike and other highways in the state are expanding their speed limits.
The maximum speed on about 800 miles of roadway in the state will change from 65 to 70 miles per hour. Almost 90 percent of the Turnpike will have the increased limit, but areas near service plazas and tunnels will still keep their lower limits of 55 miles per hour.
The new, faster areas will join a 97-mile stretch from interchanges at Blue Mountain to Morgantown. The speed limit in that section was already increased to 70 miles per hour in 2014.
“Everybody travels that fast anyway, and I think it will keep the flow going a little bit better,” said Kim Mearkle, a Bedford County resident. “Everybody will just know that this is the way you need to go.”
“I’m for it, but people should still be careful around the ramps and exits – and especially the tunnels,” said Davis Fogal, who lives in Fulton County. “You don’t have a lot of room in the tunnels. You got to watch your speed, and remember to slow down.”
Officials with PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission looked at speed and traffic data, and the physical characteristics of highways, in choosing where to bump up the speed limit.
“In the pilot areas, we saw very minimal increases in overall speed, and nothing in the way of crashes to indicate there was a problem increasing to 70 miles per hour,” said PennDOT secretary Leslie Richards.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the only roadway affected in Franklin and Fulton counties. Other roads, like Interstate-81, did not qualify due to histories of crashes and heavy, weaving traffic.
“Motorists should not look at this change as consent to speed,” said Sean Logan, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. “In fact, it’s vital as ever to drive sensibly, to avoid distractions and to buckle up.”
PennDOT officials are still urging the public not to exceed 65 miles per hour on highways, unless they see a posted sign with a higher limit. They said it will take several days for crews to replace the signs at every location.
Roadways that are being posted with the new limit over the next few days (including current pilot areas) are:
- I-79 from I-90 in Erie County south to a point just north of the PA 228 interchange in Butler County (97 miles)
- I-79 from I-70 in Washington County south to the West Virginia border (33 miles)
- I-80 from the Ohio State border east to a point near mile marker 190 in Clinton County (190 miles)
- I-80 from a point near mile marker 195 in Union County to a point near mile marker 247 in Columbia County (52 miles)
- US 15 from the interchange with PA 14 in Lycoming County north to the New York State border (49 miles)
- I-99 from Exit No. 68 in Centre County south to a point near mile marker 34 in Blair County (34 miles)
- I-99 from Exit No. 28 in Blair County south to mile marker 0 (PA Turnpike) in Bedford County (28 miles)
- I-380 from I-84 in Lackawanna County south to Exit No. 3 in Monroe County (21 miles)