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Turnpike head: Stranded drivers were "safer"' on toll road

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 11, 2016 2:01 AM
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FILE PHOTO: In this photo provided by Michael Watkins, traffic is at a standstill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bedford, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Watkins via AP)

(Harrisburg) -- The Turnpike Commisison and state police say keeping vehicles on the toll road during a historic snowfall last month that stranded hundreds for more than 24 hours was the safest decision under the circumstances.

Turnpike Chief Executive Mark Compton has told the state House Transportation Committee alternative routes were also impacted by the blizzard, and motorists "were safer on our system.''

Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey says the rural area between Bedford and Somerset made it even more difficult to deal with during the storm.

"The places that we do have access gates, which we did use to turn traffic and get them back to the Bedford area, were functional and were useful," he says. "But, the places where you would be accessing a township road or a game commission access point, it was very risky to send traffic off on  those locations."

State police patrol director Major Edward Hoke says the fact there was no loss of life shows the decision to "not scatter traffic in areas not sufficient to handle it'' was a wise one. 

Compton says officials are trying to ensure that in future sufficient personnel and equipment can get where they are needed.  



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In this photo provided by Dave Saba, traffic is at a standstill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Somerset, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. (Dave Saba via AP)

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