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Emergency Responders Tend To Motorists Stranded On PA Turnpike


State emergency management officials are urging motorists to stay off the roads in southwestern Pennsylvania, after a winter storm brought heavy snowfall to parts of the region. 

The governor's office reports emergency responders from are performing "multiple driver checks" on vehicles stranded on a stretch of I-76 near Somerset.  

"First responders from multiple state, county and local agencies are working together to address issues and ensure people are safe," Governor Tom Wolf said in a press release Saturday morning. "Hazardous conditions will persist throughout the day and we are urging people to stay off the roadways for their own safety and to allow PennDOT to clear the snow."

The governor's office says more than 135 first responders, including National Guard troops and staff from five area fire departments have been assisting state troopers as they perform vehicle checks and assist stranded travelers. It is unclear how many vehicles are stuck, but emergency officials say each "has been checked multiple times." 

Crews from the Pennsylvaia Turnpike Commission are also refueling vehicles that are running low on gas in order to keep the heat running and the occupants warm. Meanwhile, EMS teams are standing by at an impromptu warming shelter that has been put up at the Bedford exit.


Duquesne players stranded

Players and staff from Duquesne University's men's basketball team are among those stuck on the snow-covered Turnpike.

Coach Jim Ferry says the team bus hasn't "moved one inch in 12 hours."

Officials say there are pockets of motorists stuck in the westbound lanes of the turnpike south of Pittsburgh. Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo says some of those pockets stretch two or three miles.

The National Guard has been called out to help motorists that have been stranded through the night.

Ferry says his players have been eating leftover pizza from last night but he's hoping traffic gets moving soon.

Road restrictions enforced


PennDOT has imposed a temporary ban on certain types of vehicles on interstate highways across the region. Speed limits have been lowered to 45 mph on a number of major routes, including I-376, I-79, I-279 and I-579 in Allegheny County.

More information on road conditions and traffic restrictions can be found at PennDOT's traveler information website, 511PA.com.

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Josh Raulerson is the local host for Morning Edition weekdays from 5-9 a.m. on 90.5 WESA.