UPDATE: Winter storm prompts more travel restrictions

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Travel restrictions for commercial vehicles have been announced in more states as a massive winter storm overtakes most of the Northeast today and is expected to continue into Wednesday in several states.

In addition to earlier warnings, New York state has declared a state of emergency for Long Iland, New York City, and much of the lower Hudson Valley. New York also issued this: “Effective immediately, a speed reduction is in place on I-87 between exit 17 (Newburgh) and the NYC line, I-287, I-95 and the Garden State Parkway. The speed limit is now 45MPH. The Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge remains at 35MPH.”

New Jersey Department of Transportation officials today issued a Winter Weather Congestion Alert.

The Vermont Truck and Bus Association earlier posted this to its Facebook page:

“Both VTrans and our Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit are closely monitoring Winter Storm Orlena and its impact on Vermont. At this time, Massachusetts has banned tractor-trailer unit movement on its interstate highway system and New York has banned tractor-trailer units in the southern portion of the state. We ask that industry members closely monitor storm-related restrictions in New York and Massachusetts as they plan their routes. Currently, we are not aware of any travel restrictions in New Hampshire or Maine. VTrans will be providing appropriate messaging on their electric sign systems throughout this weather event. We are especially concerned with commercial vehicle traffic that is southbound on I-91 in the Brattleboro region, we would like to avoid that traffic getting stacked-up on the interstate on the Vermont side.”

Our original story from late Sunday, Jan. 31:

Several states are restricting travel by commercial vehicles as much of the Midwest and Northeast have gotten or are getting significant amounts of snow and high winds.

Travel restrictions for tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles are in place in all or parts of:

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Screen Shot 2021 01 31 At 5 36 18 PmThe National Weather Service says that as a coastal storm strengthens overnight and into Monday morning, bands of heavy snow look to set up over an area stretching from eastern Pennsylvania and the New York City metro area to southern New England. The storm is expected to drop what the weather service is calling “copious amounts of snow” in these areas through the day Monday and even into Tuesday.

The weather service’s latest forecast calls for over a foot of snow across a large portion of eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, southern New York, and into southern New England with totals over in excess of 20 inches in some locations. Gusty winds will help to reduce visibilities and lead to both blowing and drifting snow.

The weather service says “treacherous travel conditions are expected throughout the Northeast as the storm continues to generate periods of snow that stick around into the day on Tuesday.” Snow is expected to taper off for most areas by Tuesday night with the lone exception being northern New England where snow may continue into Wednesday morning, according to the weather service.

Parts of the Midwest continue to di=g out from a major storm there.

New Jersey governor declares state of emergency

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency and the state’s Department of Transportation issued the following as part of an administrative order today, Sunday, Jan. 31:

The commercial vehicle travel restriction will begin at 12 noon, Sunday, January 31 and will be in place for the length of the following highways in both directions:
· I-76, from the Walt Whitman Bridge (Pennsylvania border) to NJ Route 42
· I-78, from the Pennsylvania border to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike)
· I-80, from the Pennsylvania border to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike)
· I-195, from I-295 to NJ Route 138
· I-280, from I-80 to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike)
· I-287, from NJ Route 440 to the New York State border
· I-295, from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the Scudders Falls Bridge (Pennsylvania border)
· I-676, from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (Pennsylvania border) to I-76
· NJ Route 440, from the Outerbridge Crossing to I-287
The commercial vehicle travel restriction applies to:
· All tractor-trailers (exceptions as listed in the administrative order)
· Empty straight CDL-weighted trucks
· Passenger vehicles pulling trailers
· Recreational vehicles
· Motorcycles
This restriction does not apply to:
· The New Jersey Turnpike
· The Garden State Parkway
· The Atlantic City Expressway
· Public safety vehicles, sworn and civilian public safety personnel; as well as other personnel directly supporting healthcare facilities or critical infrastructure such as providing fuel or food.

Trucks that are already in New Jersey when the travel restrictions go into place are encouraged to pull off in truck stops to wait out the storm – DO NOT PARK ON SHOULDERS.

In addition to the commercial restrictions, all motorists are strongly encouraged to stay off the roads, particularly Sunday night and Monday. The safest place to be is at home.

New York issues restrictions on trucks

The New York State DOT today issued the following:

Given the expected impacts the upcoming storm will have on New York’s transportation system, short and long tandems will be banned on portions of the New York State Thruway effective Monday at 5 a.m. Specifically, this includes I-87 from the New York City Line to Exit 24 in Albany, as well as on all of I-95 and I-287. Additionally, empty trailers will also be banned on I-87 between Exit 8 to Exit 21A, on the Berkshire Spur and on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Beginning at 5 a.m. Monday, empty trailers and tandem trailers will also be banned on I-84 from Pennsylvania state line to Connecticut state line, on Route 17 East of Binghamton to the New Jersey state line, and on the entire length of I-684.

Pennsylvania issues restrictions on trucks, other vehicles

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is advising motorists to avoid all unnecessary travel and anticipates it will implement travel restrictions on trucks and other vehicles on certain roadways around the state, which will remain in place until conditions warrant their removal. PennDOT issued the following:

Effective at noon on Sunday, Jan. 31, vehicle restrictions are anticipated on the following roadways that align with Tier 1 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan:

    • Interstate 70 in both directions from the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) to the Maryland state line;
    • The entire length of Interstate 78 in both directions;
    • Interstate 80 from Interstate 81 to the New Jersey state line;
    • The entire length of Interstate 81 in both directions;
    • The entire length of Interstate 83 in both directions;
    • The entire length of Interstate 84 in both directions; and
    • The entire length of Interstate 380 in both directions.

Additional speed and vehicle restrictions on these and other interstates could be added depending on changing conditions.

Under Tier 1 restrictions, the following vehicles are not permitted on affected roadways:

    • Tractors without trailers;
    • Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers;
    • Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded tandem trailers;
    • Enclosed cargo delivery trucks that meet the definition of a CMV;
    • Passenger vehicles (cars, SUV’s, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers;
    • Recreational vehicles/motorhomes;
    • School buses, commercial buses and motor coaches not carrying chains or Alternate Traction Devices (ATD’s); and
    • Motorcycles.

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 www.511pa.com by clicking on “Personal Alerts” in the left-hand menu.