PennDOT is taking action to help make Interstate 90 a safer route to travel. It’s called the cover I-90 initiative; this is just one part of PennDOT’s plan to help keep the roads safe throughout the company’s region that gets the most snow.
“We’re ready,” Bill Petit, District Executive for PennDOT tells us. He says they’re prepared for whatever mother nature might bring this winter season. “We’ve got 185 plow trucks right now that are equipped with spreaders and plows. We’re ready. We’ve got 55,000 tons of salt already in our stockyards.”
The area has budgeted $18 million for winter services this year; last year, they spent $27.9 million. “Keeping roads safe and passible in winter represents a major investment for us,” says Petit. “It is vitally important that we plan carefully, make good decisions, and manage resources wisely.”
The Traffic Management Center in Oil City is going 24/7 beginning next week to monitor the cameras, roadway information systems, and message boards to better inform motorists of conditions. Doug Schofield, Assistant District Executive for PennDOT, says, “Getting the information out from the field, what they’re seeing in the field. Getting it to a place where we can communicate that with the motorists is very important.”
PennDOT is adding two plows to the Interstate 90 route as part of the Cover I-90 Initiative to help alleviate some of the issues the heavily traveled road has seen in the past. Tom Mello, of Erie County PennDOT, tells us, “It’s going to cut our cycle times down to one hour from two and half hours. Our mileage will go from 35 miles in a cycle down to like 25. So we’re hoping we have better coverage up there across the 46 miles of interstate that we have.”
While PennDOT is prepared, they’re urging motorists to be prepared, as well. “We’re in the battle together. They have to take a little bit more time in their commute to make sure they can travel safely.”
Petit reminds everyone to “Make sure vehicles are ready for winter. Check your tires, prepare a winter travel kit, and be aware of the need to slow down and increase following distances during winter road conditions”.
PennDOT also has the 5-1-1 PA app and website (www.511PA.com) that has all the up-to-date information on when and what roads are plowed. There is also 5-1-1 PA connection, where those stuck in traffic can communicate with PennDOT through the app on smartphones.