PennDOT announces road, speed limit restrictions for I-81 during winter storm

16 February 2024- Ahead of anticipated snow across the state tonight, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) are advising motorists to avoid unnecessary travel during the storm. Additionally, the agencies will implement various speed and vehicle restrictions throughout the storm.

PennDOT and PTC crews are actively pre-treating roadways where necessary ahead of the storm to help prevent ice from forming a bond with the pavement during the early stages of a storm. However, salt does not resolve all risks, and drivers may encounter icy spots on the roadway. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form. 

Restrictions will be communicated via variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website and smartphone apps. Motorists can also sign up for personalized alerts on the website. 

The following vehicle restrictions will go into effect at 8:00 PM, Friday, February 16, in accordance with the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan. Restrictions will be lifted as quickly as possible when conditions are safe. 

Tier 1:

  • PA Turnpike (I-76) from New Stanton (Exit 75) to Carlisle (Exit 226).
  • Interstate 81 from the Maryland border to I-78.
  • I-83, entire length.
  • I-99, entire length.

Under Tier 1, motorcycles, passenger vehicles with trailers, RVs, oversized loads, empty tractor trailers, empty tanker trucks, and fifth-wheel RVs are banned from roadways. Fifth-wheels are allowed ONLY if they have chains/traction devices on board.

Additionally, speed limits are restricted to 55mph and commercial vehicles may only drive in the right lane. Full information from PennDOT can be found HERE

The purpose of the restriction is to help ensure the interstates remain open during the most challenging conditions of the winter storm. When conditions improve, PennDOT will remove the travel restrictions.

Restrictions will be communicated via variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website at www.511PA.com and smartphone apps. Motorists can also sign up for alerts on the website.

Although PennDOT crews have been treating roadways, the department’s primary goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow. PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until precipitation stops and roads are clear.