Drivers on one section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Harrisburg can now drive 70 miles per hour. Soon, drivers will see the speed limit rise from 65 to 70 miles per hour on two stretches of interstate highways in our area.
In a statement released by PennDOT Wednesday morning, officials announce Interstate 380 and Interstate 80 will see a speed limit of 70 miles per hour.
The head of PennDOT calls it a pilot program, a test to see which other parts of the interstate system in Pennsylvania could see a higher speed limit. The speed limit on sections of 80 and 380 is set to raise on August 11th.
21 miles of Interstate 380 will soon see the higher speed limit on the stretch that runs from the intersection of I-84, south to Monroe County to Exit 3, The Mt. Pocono-Pocono Pines Exit.
Also, 88-miles of I-80 will have the higher speed limit. It starts from Exit 101 near Dubois in Clearfield County. Drivers will be able to drive 70 miles per hour to mile marker 189 in Clinton County near Jersey Shore.
PennDOT says it will collect data from these locations and evaluate other sections of the interstate to see if it is safe and efficient to increase the speed limit in more areas next spring.
The new speed limits means the work zone speeds will be moved to 55-miles per hour up from 40 which raises safety concerns. That came with a warning Wednesday from the Pennsylvania State Police.
Troopers will begin conducting an operation it calls, 'orange squeeze' where patrolmen will be running radar inside of construction vehicles instead of patrol cars.
Lavida Owens of Scotrun drives Interstate 380 every day, and thinks it is the perfect spot for the higher limit, relatively flat, not much congestion.
"I think we're already going that fast and I think it's a good idea, because, you know, it's just too slow," Owens said. "And it's such a long span between each exit. I think 70 will be a great idea."
But not all drivers who frequent this highway like the change.
"70 is too much. You give them 70, they're going to do 90. 65 is sufficient in my book," said Ron Weisse of Eagle Lake.
While the speed limit and is going up on 380 and 80 next month, this could be just the start. PennDOT said if this goes well, we could be seeing 70 miles an hour in spots on interstates all over the state.
"Why not change the speed to match what the operational characteristics are and take away the threat of a ticket for going 72 when the facility is safe to handle it?" said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch.
The head of PennDOT said these roads were designed to handle 70 miles per hour, and that engineers closely examined traffic data, crash reports, and more to pick the best interstates to test the 70 mile per hour limit. That led to 80 and 380. They also found drivers tend to go 70 in these stretches anyway.
"Things are happing all the time, there are accidents no matter what. It will probably be the same, maybe a little worse," said Jeff Supinski of Lake Wallenpaupack.