To help motorists and reduce traffic delays and congestion, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is providing a new service on I-78, U.S. Route 22 and State Routes 33 and 309 to assist drivers who may find themselves stranded during morning and afternoon rush hours.
"Our freeway service patrols are ready to serve the motorists of the Lehigh Valley in a way they have never been served before," District Executive Amar C. Bhajandas, P.E., said. "We are proud to launch the freeway service patrol as a significant piece of our Traffic Incident Management System in the Lehigh Valley.
"I am confident the motoring public will quickly embrace these distinctive trucks, especially if they find themselves stuck on I-78 or Routes 22, 33 and 309. It is a scary feeling being stranded in your car on a busy highway during rush hour, and PennDOT is here to help."
PennDOT will have two lime-green freeway trucks patrolling sections of I-78, Routes 22 and 309. The trucks will also be dispatched to respond to incidents on other sections of Routes 22, 33, 309 and I-78. The truck operators will render assistance free of charge to stranded motorists during the weekday morning rush hours and the afternoon rush hours. The operators of these two trucks will provide two gallons of fuel for motorists with empty gas tanks, change flat tires, charge batteries and tow disabled vehicles off the highway and out of harms way.
If the operator cannot fix the vehicle in 10 minutes, or if he diagnoses a serious problem, PennDOT will tow the vehicle to a designated drop-off location. From here, the motorist can have the expressway operator call a relative, friend or a towing company to have the car towed to the motorists garage of choice.
Bhajandas said the Freeway Service Patrol trucks are equipped with emergency lights, arrow boards and all the tools, safety accessories, fuel and communications equipment needed to quickly repair a vehicle or tow it.
PennDOTs Freeway Service Patrol operators are employed by Ross Body and Frame Works Inc., Allentown, Pa. The company was awarded a competitively bid contract. The $1 million contract is for three years and is funded 80% by the federal government and 20% by the state.
Each Freeway Service Patrol operator will wear a uniform with photo identification so motorists can quickly tell the operator is a member of PennDOTs Freeway Service Patrol team.
Freeway Service Patrol operators are trained in first aid and CPR and will be able to render emergency first-aid assistance when they arrive on the scene of an incident. In addition to patroling the Lehigh Valley highways, they are in communication with the Pennsylvania State Police and the emergency communications centers so they can respond to incidents when their services are needed. The operators are also trained in setting up traffic control patterns on the highway to help direct traffic safely around a crash or disabled vehicle.