The speed limit from Westmoreland to Bedford counties went into effect Tuesday. It affects the highway between mileposts 75 and 130.
Officials say the new speed limit is because of safety concerns and the need for reconstruction in the area. The stretch is part of the original 160-mile toll road that opened in 1940. It is windy, hilly, and handles a large number of trucks. It is scheduled to be totally reconstructed over the next eight to 10 years, with widening and some curve straightening.
The changes are the result of an $80,000 study by a consulting firm, HNTB Corp. of Philadelphia. Other recommendations in the report include establishing split speed limits of 55 for trucks and 65 for cars, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The consultant said restricting trucks to the right lane would cause too many backups.
In 1999, the turnpike had the highest number of highway fatalities in 10 years. The paper reported that traffic has doubled over the last 15 years, while at the same time the number of state police patrolling the highway has remained the same, and the number of speeding citations has dropped 20 percent.
According to the paper, enforcement of the new lower speed limit has been vigorous. Troopers issued 113 speeding tickets on Tuesday when they new limits went into effect.