UPDATE 2:15 p.m. March 18————————————
PennDOT announced on the afternoon of March 18 that they will partially reopen 13 of 30 closed rest areas. Limited portable restrooms will be available; indoor facilities will not. Click here for more.
A Pennsylvania State Representative is demanding that Governor Tom Wolf reopen Pennsylvania rest area restrooms to give truckers access to the services that they need to continue to deliver goods.
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).
On March 18, from a shuttered rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe recorded a Facebook video demanding that Governor Wolf reopen restrooms at rest stops.
Metcalfe noted that “Our truckers who are delivering food and products to America deserve better from Governor Wolf and his taxpayer paid staff!”
Also on March 18, state trucking trade group Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) plans to partially reverse this decision and allow truck parking — though it isn’t clear whether restroom facilities will be available.
There has been no official word as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday from PennDOT to confirm that rest stops could reopen to truck parking.
From PMTA President and CEO Kevin Stewart on the Rest Stop Closures:
“I just had a call with George McCauley, Deputy Secretary for PennDOT. It is PennDOT’s plan to begin opening rest areas for truck-only parking over the next day or two. They are unsure whether that will include restroom and vending or keep the buildings closed and utilize port-a-potties or offer no services outside of parking. They are looking at the high volume locations first. We continue to stress the utmost importance rest areas play in maintaining driver health and safety and will continue to press the Department to open these facilities as expeditiously as possible.”