The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has agreed to reopen all of service plazas that they shuttered earlier this week for Coronavirus.
All 17 closed service plazas are set to reopen at 7 a.m. on Friday, March 20, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Restroom facilities will be available to drivers 24 hours per day starting at 7 a.m. on Friday. Porta-potties will remain in place for use at the service plaza locations for another week.
The service plazas will be offering limited food options for take-out only from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday. After Friday, food will be served from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. except at North Midway and Valley Forge locations which will offer food 24/7.
Fuel and convenience stores will be available 24 hours a day.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission also issued reminders to drivers about new tolling practices brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak:
The PA Turnpike is not accepting cash or credit cards at its “ticket system” interchanges. This is a temporary safety measure to keep travelers moving with no need to stop at tollbooths or interact with tolling personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. All tolls will be assessed electronically via E-ZPass or the PA Turnpike’s TOLL BY PLATE program as vehicles travel at posted speed limits through tolling points. Cash tolls will still be in place on the Mon-Fayette Expressway (PA Turnpike 43) via the current Automated Payment Machines.
All those with special hauling permits for overweight/over-dimensional vehicles (Class 9) will still be able to travel the PA Turnpike. However, they must follow modified procedures during the temporary all-electronic tolling period. All customers in this category must print and carry a hard copy of the approved permit. Tolling personnel at designated interchanges will be available to assist with the appropriate lane assignments. All haulers must apply for a permit within two weeks of the anticipated travel day.
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).
PennDOT has also reopened more than a dozen of the rest areas that they shuttered earlier this week in response to the outcry from truckers.