PA and NJ issue travel restrictions as storm bears down on East Coast

Weather map
National Weather Service

New Jersey and Pennsylvania have issued travel restrictions as much of the East Coast and Northeast brace for a major winter storm today and Sunday.

The forecast is for rain, freezing rain, considerable amounts of snow, and possible high winds through Sunday. The storm is moving along the East Coast from the South and will spread over the Appalachian, Middle Atlantic, and New England states. Parts of New York and the interior of New England could see as much as a foot of snow.

At the same time, the National Weather Service says areas of heavy rain with possible flash flooding and severe thunderstorms are expected for the Gulf Coast and Florida today. A Pacific storm system is to bring heavy mountain snow, strong winds, and coastal rain to the West this weekend.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) issued a commercial vehicle travel restriction on multiple Interstate highways in New Jersey starting today (Saturday, Jan. 6)  at 2 p.m. based on the forecast for snow with greater accumulations in northern and western parts of the state.

Winter weather is expected to begin Saturday afternoon, which could make driving conditions treacherous, particularly in North Jersey. The travel restrictions are being coordinated with neighboring states. In addition to the commercial restrictions, all motorists are encouraged to avoid unnecessary travel on Saturday and Sunday.

The commercial vehicle travel restriction will begin today at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 6 and will be in place until further notice for the following highways in both directions:

  • I-78, entire length from the Pennsylvania border to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike)
  • I-80, entire length from the Pennsylvania border to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike)
  • I-280, entire length from I-80 to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike)
  • I-287, entire length from NJ Route 440 to the New York State border
  • 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. For a complete list of operations or personnel that are exempt from the travel ban, see the Administrative Order.
  • 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. The DOT said trucks should not park on the shoulders of the highways.

Pennsylvania issues travel restrictions

Pennsylvania's 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.

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.

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The following vehicle restrictions went into place at 10 a.m. today (Saturday, Jan. 6) in accordance with the commonwealth's weather event vehicle restriction plan:

  • Tier 1:
    • Interstate 99, entire length.
    • I-81 from Maryland to I-78.
    • I-83 entire length. 

The following vehicle restrictions will go into place at noon today: 

  • Tier 1:
    • PA Turnpike (I-76) from New Stanton (Exit 75) to Carlisle (Exit 226). 

    The following vehicle restrictions will go into place at 2 p.m. today:

    • Tier 1:
      • Pa Turnpike Northeastern Extension (I-476) Lehigh Valley (Exit 56) to Clarks Summit (Exit 130).
      • I-78 entire length.
      • I-81 from I-78 to New York.
      • I-80 from Exit 173 (Lamar) to New Jersey.
      • I-84 entire length.
      • I-180 entire length.
      • I-380 entire length.
      • Route 33 entire length.
      • U.S. 22 from I-78 to New Jersey. 

      The following vehicle restrictions are anticipated to go into place at 4 p.m. today, as conditions warrant:

      • Tier 3
        • I-81 from I-80 to New York.
        • I-84 entire length.
        • I-380 entire length. 

       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 unloaded or lightly loaded cargo delivery trucks/box trucks that meet the definition of a commercial motor vehicle
      • Passenger vehicles (cars, SUV's, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers. 
      • Recreational vehicles/motorhomes.
      • School buses, commercial buses and motor coaches. 
      • Motorcycles.  

      On roadways with Tier 3 restrictions in place, no commercial vehicles are permitted except loaded single trailers with chains or approved Alternate Traction Devices. Additionally, all school buses, commercial buses, motor coaches, motorcycles, RVs/motorhomes and passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers are not permitted on affected roadways while restrictions are in place.

      PennDOT urges motorists to avoid travel if possible. If travel is necessary, use caution, reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions.

      If you are traveling on the PA Turnpike and find yourself in need of assistance, dial *11 on your cell phone. As needed, a staff member of the turnpike's 24/7 operations center can then dispatch help to your location.