Residents React to PA Turnpike Speed Limit Increase

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. - A 100 mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike now has a higher speed limit. Crews replaced the 65 mph signs with 70 mph signs Wednesday from the Blue Mountain exit (201) to the Morgantown exit (298).

Highway officials said the change was made to make travel more efficient, but they are also stressing that safety is still a top priority.

"While much of the stretch of this roadway is posted at 70 miles an hour, there are still some areas drivers will see reduced speeds, specifically at curves where they will be posted at 60 to 65 mph,” Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said.

Work zone speed limits also increased from 40 mph to 55 mph. State police said they will be strictly enforcing those areas.

"With this increase, we still remain committed to protecting the lives of people traveling as well as the men and women who are working out in the roadway,” Compton said.

Transportation officials said safety is a priority, but some residents are not convinced.

“I think it's just a bad idea to increase it, the speed limit, because of all the accidents,” said Franklin County resident Tina Blessing. “How fast do you actually have to go on the Interstate?"

Other residents think the hike will not make a noticeable difference.

"It's not going to be a big problem going to 70 [mph] because most of the vehicles are already traveling 70 miles an hour,” said Franklin County resident Ralph Peters.

Authorities at PennDOT said they will monitor the 70 mph zone on the Turnpike for six to eight months before deciding if the remaining 550 miles should also see a speed limit increase. If everything goes well, they are hoping to implement the speed hike on the whole turnpike by next spring.

“We're starting here in the Turnpike. In a few weeks, a section of over 88 miles of Interstate 80 for the DuBois area heading east will be moved to 70 mph, and then a little bit of I-380 in the northeast will also go to 70 mph,” said Barry Schoch, Pennsylvania transportation secretary and Turnpike commissioner. “These will be the first phase, if you will, in the commonwealth of moving the interstate system to 70 mph."

PennDOT released a smart phone app that helps drivers adjust to the new speed limits by sending automatic alerts. For more information about that app, click here.

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