Pennsylvania Turnpike Speed Limit Now 70 MPH


Drivers can zip along most of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at 70 mph and keep cruising that fast on most of Interstate 380 starting May 2.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and state Department of Transportation announced permanent increases in the speed limit to 396 more miles of turnpike and 400 miles of interstates, including almost all of the turnpike’s northeast extension through Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.

As part of a pilot program experimenting with higher speed limits, PennDOT raised the limit from 65 mph to 70 mph in the summer of 2014 on I-380 between its junction with I-84 in Lackawanna County and Exit 3, the Mount Pocono/Pocono Pines/Route 940 interchange in Monroe County. The interchange is about 2½ miles north of I-80. About 242 miles of I-80 will have a 70 mph limit, including a 52-mile stretch between Union and Columbia counties.

Penn State University transportation researchers studied the effects of the higher limit and found no increases in average speeds or accidents due to the higher limit, PennDOT spokesman James May said. The researchers found similar effects on the turnpike.

Turnpike officials said 493 of the turnpike’s 552 miles will have a 70 mph limit. The only spots on the northeast extension — known as I-476 — that won’t have a 70 mph limit are the approaches to toll plazas that stretch across the extension just south of the Wyoming Valley interchange in Luzerne County and near Keyser Avenue in Taylor in Lackawanna County.

The same goes for the approaches to construction zones and the highway’s five tunnels, turnpike spokesman Carl Defebo said.

No other local PennDOT-owned interstate will have speed limits higher than 55 or 65 mph, PennDOT spokesman James May said. Two potential spots for a 70 mph limit were I-81 north of Clarks Summit and I-84 to the New York state line.

The highways’ curvature, mountainous terrain and instances of heavy fog worked against increasing the speed limit from 55 or 65 mph, research concluded. So did the fact that the same interstates in New York still have 65 mph limits. Stretches of interstate that pass cities such as Scranton and Wilkes-Barre are considered too congested with traffic to increase speed limits from 55 mph, May said.