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Thirteen Pennsylvania rest stops to reopen; more in the works

March 20, 2020
After closing down and barricading all of its 30 rest stops in the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is starting to reopen the facilities in a limited fashion for truckers.

After closing down and barricading all of its 30 rest stops in the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is starting to reopen the facilities in a limited fashion for truckers.

“Every decision made has been in the interest of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and we are constantly reevaluating our response. That said, we also recognize that drivers need and deserve access to rest areas,” PennDot released in a statement.

Thirteen locations have already been unblocked and will allow parking, though for the time being, the indoor restrooms will remain closed, “because there is no staff to keep them clean and properly sanitized,” PennDot said. Drivers will have to use one of five portable toilets placed at each location. These will be cleaned once a day.

Current locations include:

  • Interstate 79: Allegheny NB only
  • Interstate 80: Venango County EB/WB
  • Interstate 80: Centre County EB/WB
  • Interstate 80: Montour County EB/WB
  • Interstate 81: Luzerne County NB/SB
  • Interstate 81: Cumberland County NB/SB

The American Trucking Associations, along with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), put pressure on PennDot to reopen the stops and provide truckers with a much needed oasis on their vital journeys to replenish the nation’s grocery stores and hospitals.

The ATA reported more services and actual restrooms with running water could be available by the weekend: “The proposed changes, expected to take place no later than Saturday, include indoor bathrooms being available at all hours; the convenience store open at all hours, and one restaurant at each location open from 7 am until 6 pm for a limited take-out menu.”

In the meantime, here is what drivers need to know. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Furthermore, the CDC now believes the more severe the COVID-19 symptoms, which include dry coughing and trouble breathing, the more contagious the person is.

A new study by the National Institute of Health and several prominent universities found that this novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), originating from bats and suspected to have been passed to humans via pangolins at a Chinese wet market, is “detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.”

This coronavirus fortunately can be killed with common flu-fighting methods. For disinfection, the CDC advises a diluted solution of 1/3 cup bleach per one gallon of water, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, as well as most common EPA-registered household disinfectants.

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

For tips, questions or comments, email [email protected].

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