WILKES-BARRE — The 70 mph speed limit that will be put in place starting Wednesday on a 100-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the central part of the state is just the start of planned changes for the toll road, that will encompass our area.
According to Carl DeFebo, Turnpike spokesman, a news conference scheduled for Wednesday will herald more changes for other sections of the turnpike, including the Northeast Extension.
Parts of the Northeast Extension now are posted at 65 mph, which is reduced to 55 mph in more urbanized areas. Speed limits are lower in construction areas.
The 132-mile Northeast Extension, also known as Interstate 476, connects with the Philadelphia region with Northeastern Pennsylvania. Exits in Northeastern Pennsylvania include: White Haven, Bear Creek, Pittston, Keyser Avenue and Clarks Summit, where the extension ends.
“All we can say right now is that additional roll-outs of the speed limit will be announced Wednesday, and those are expected to include the Northeast Extension,” DeFebo said.
On Friday the commission announced the 70-mph zone will be on Interstate 76, between the Blue Mountain Interchange (exit 201) and the Morgantown Interchange (exit 298) starting July 23.
“Our studies have shown that the design of our system in this area can safely accommodate the higher speed limit,” said Mark Compton, turnpike CEO. “But motorists must remember that it is their responsibility to drive safely and sensibly according to the traffic and weather conditions – especially when the pavement is slick from precipitation or when visibility is limited.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, DeFebo said the commission will reveal more details on this and future speed-limit changes on its 550-plus mile system. DeFebo said until the new 70 mph signs are unveiled, motorists are reminded that they must heed the limits posted on all highway signs.
“The Pennsylvania State Police will be enforcing all posted speed limits just as they have in the past,” said Lt. Edward Murphy of state police Troop T, the unit in charge of turnpike patrols. “Strict enforcement of the new 70 mph speed limit will be observed by our troopers during all turnpike speed-enforcement operations.”
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 34 states have raised speed limits to 70 mph or higher on some portion of their roadway systems since 1995 when Congress repealed the national maximum speed limit.