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Police Officials Blame Both Weather, Drivers in Huge Pa. Turnpike Pileups

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(Pa. state police officials testify about the massive series of crashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on February 14th.  Photo by Tony Romeo)

(Pa. state police officials testify about the massive series of crashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on February 14th. Photo by Tony Romeo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — A Pennsylvania state police official today told a state senate panel that changing road conditions played a role in the catastrophic Valentine’s Day pileups on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (see related story).

In an interview late last month, the Penndot secretary said that turnpike conditions were primarily wet that morning.

But Lt. Col. George Bivens, the state police deputy commissioner of operations, says that while that may have been true when speed restrictions were lifted, the road conditions deteriorated in the hour or so before the pileups began, with blowing snow and icy spots complicated by sun glare.

“Certainly the weather conditions’ changing impacted the conditions on the road, but we had a number of drivers that did not compensate,” Bivens (second from left in photo) said today.

Bivens says that more than 50 citations have been issued for 41 different crashes involving 139 vehicles.

The chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee says there could be some legislation to improve communication among agencies on whether speeds should be reduced and other matters in situations like this.

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