Drivers Question Pa. Turnpike Ending Speed Restriction

By Alison Burdo
|  Friday, Feb 14, 2014  |  Updated 7:23 PM EDT
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State Police are reporting that windy weather combined with snowy roads and drivers traveling too fast contributed to a pileup that involved nearly 100 vehicles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Friday.

Christine Maddela, NBC10.Com

State Police are reporting that windy weather combined with snowy roads and drivers traveling too fast contributed to a pileup that involved nearly 100 vehicles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Friday.

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As motorists waited for hours for officials to clear a massive accident involving as many as 100 vehicles Friday, many wondered why the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission made the decision to lift the 45 mile per hour speed restriction at 6 a.m.

"Based on the road conditions at that time," said Bill Capone, spokesman for the Pa. Turnpike Commission, "it was only wet, so the decision was made to lift the speed restriction."

But drivers say the blacktop was not just wet, it was icy.

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"They're talking about slush, but there was really a large coating of frozen slush and ice covering the turnpike," said 41-year-old Darren Weiss, who was driving along the turnpike on his way to work Friday morning. "I would say two-thirds of the road were covered in ice at the time."

And others chimed in on Twitter.

Officials declined to comment on the role ice played in the pileup, but say crews were treating the roadways Friday morning, as well as throughout the day Thursday.

"Our roadways must have been passable to life the speed restrictions," said Mimi Doyle, who also represents the PTC.

She added that the PTC also asks drivers to use their best judgment while traveling.

The PTC initially imposed speed restrictions in the Philly region beginning at 11 p.m. Wednesday. The PTC also banned empty and double tractor-trailers from the road starting at that same time and added non-commercial and recreational trailers being towed by passenger vehicles to the ban around 6 a.m. Thursday.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation put a speed restriction in place on several expressways in the Philly area including Interstates 76, 95, and 476, and Routes 1, 30,202 and 422, among others, around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. PennDOT's restriction remained until about 8 a.m. Friday. 

When asked why PennDOT would maintain its restriction for two hours longer than the PTC, Doyle said, "We have one system, they have many."

"It might have been different situations for them on each expressway, as opposed to our straight line from Ohio to New Jersey," she added.

Capone says state police, who are investigating the crash, will issue a report that will explain many of the unanswered questions.

Crews continued to work to remove vehicles - many of which have been directed to U-turn and head west on the eastbound lanes. The eastbound lanes between Willow Grove and Bensalem were closed for hours Friday and reopened just before 4 p.m.

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