After furious backlash from the trucking community for closing all state rest stops for the COVID-19 crisis, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has agreed to reopen more than a dozen locations tomorrow.
PennDOT made the announcement just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Every decision made has been in the interest of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and we are constantly reevaluating our response. That said, we also recognize that drivers need and deserve access to rest areas.
In order to address safety concerns raised, PennDOT has identified 13 of its 30 rest areas that are most utilized by truckers that will be available again by tomorrow. At these locations, we will be taking down the barricades on some facilities in critical locations and making them available for truck parking. Portable restroom facilities will be available at these locations; each location will have five portable toilets (one of which is ADA-accessible) that will be cleaned once a day. Electronic message signs will be used near the applicable centers to notify drivers near the opened areas. In order to prevent further spread of COVID-19, we will NOT be opening any of the indoor facilities because there is no staff to keep them clean and properly sanitized. We will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.
These are the locations:
➡️I-81: Luzerne northbound/southbound, Cumberland northbound/southbound;
➡️I-80, Venango eastbound/westbound, Centre eastbound/westbound, Montour eastbound/westbound
➡️I-79: Crawford northbound/southbound, Allegheny northbound only
At midnight on March 17, Pennsylvania officially shuttered all state rest areas and welcome centers due to Coronavirus concerns, in addition to several that had previously closed in Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission soon followed this by announcing that they were shutting down bathrooms and restaurants in Turnpike service plazas.
The move to restrict essential parking, food, and restroom services to truckers resulted in serious backlash from the trucking community, including groups like Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA).