HIGHSPIRE, Pa. (CBS) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today announced that it has launched a two-phase review of its response to an incident that occurred during an epic blizzard over the weekend resulting in hundreds of travelers being stranded for 24 hours, including the Temple University women’s gymnastics team.
“Given the magnitude of this event, we unquestionably need to examine the response and decision-making process undertaken,” said PA Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan of Monroeville. “We owe that to the public and especially those who were greatly inconvenienced by being stranded for many hours on our system.”
The first phase of the review is the information-gathering phase. Officials say it involves collecting data for a timeline of the response and traffic-management decisions and the actions taken such as lowering the speed limit, banning trucks and detouring traffic off the highway. This initial phase is expected to be concluded in about a week.
Phase 2 of the review will be an examination of the decisions and actions taken before, during and after the event. Phase 2 will also offer recommendations on how the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission might better coordinate when responding to a blizzard of this scale. Turnpike officials say this phase is likely to take longer than the first, possibly two to four weeks.
Logan added that he wants to be sure none of the stranded travelers were charged for having endured this experience. E-ZPass tolls were collected but will be refunded after the back office reviews transaction records to determine who was involved in the backlog. Those tolls will be manually removed from the E-ZPass accounts.
“If any stranded customers were inadvertently charged a toll for that trip then we want to make it right,” Logan said. “We are asking those customers call us at 1-800-331-3414 so we can provide a full and prompt refund.”