500-plus vehicles stuck in Pa. turnpike backup

Written by Tim Lambert and The Associated Press | Jan 23, 2016 3:04 PM

In this photo provided by Michael Watkins, traffic is at a standstill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bedford, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. The Duquesne men's basketball team and Temple University's women's gymnastics team are stuck on the Turnpike due to treacherous weather conditions. A mammoth winter storm crawled up the U.S. East Coast on Saturday, making roads impassable, shutting down mass transit, and bringing Washington and New York City to a standstill. (AP Photo/Michael Watkins via AP)

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf says more than 500 vehicles are stuck in the miles-long backup in western Pennsylvania, but emergency crews have been delivering supplies and work is underway to move people to shelters if needed.  

The incident between Bedford and Somerset occured in the westbound lanes after tractor trailers could not climb a hill toward the Allegheny tunnels and backed up behind them.

In an afternoon briefing, Wolf said each vehicle had been checked at least once, and workers had been delivering food as well as fuel to make sure engines keep running so the heat can stay on for the people inside.  

"We are deploying state police, the National Guard, PennDOT and Turnpike personnel to try to make sure our folks in those vehicles are safe," he said.

He says they are working to get shelters in place quickly so people can be moved to them in buses if necessary. 

"Our first priority is the safety of those human beings," Wolf said. "I'm not pleased when one person is inconvenienced by this and that has certainly has happened between Bedford and Somerset."

Wolf said the rest of the commonwealth "is in as good a state as can be expected.''

But he warned people to stay off the roads and said another major problem could prompt a closure of highways in the commonwealth. 

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