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50 car chain reaction: Accident, crashes create PA Turnpike nightmare

Holiday travelers ride the Pennsylvania Turnpike for free November 24, 2004 in Southampton,
Holiday travelers ride the Pennsylvania Turnpike for free November 24, 2004 in Southampton,
Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

A 50-car chain reaction on Pennsylvania's Turnpike Sunday created a traveler's nightmare. It all began when a motorist was killed on the PA Turnpike after getting out of their car following a minor car crash. Consequently, multiple accidents involving up to 50 vehicles in the massive pileup, took place. A heavier than expected snowstorm blanketing the East Coast is partly to blame, according to a Dec. 8 ABC News report.

The 50-car chain reaction forced the closure of the westbound lanes of the PA Turnpike for the better part of the day as snowfall accumulations mounted. Moreover, other sources report that I-95 in Philadelphia and the Platt Bridge was shut down due to heavy snowfall and multiple fender benders in the region.

The local weather forecast in Pennsylvania said snowfall accumulations would be modest at best. However, the storm that blew through the region was much heavier than officials anticipated, which led to the 50-car chain reaction.

In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation deployed about 300 trucks to salt the roads ahead of the snow's arrival. However, the precipitation, a mixture of snow and rain, wasn't foreseen. And even when the department's full contingency of 415 salt trucks were deployed, the efforts fell short.

Take your time, slow down and you'll get there," said PennDOT's Charles Metzgerleave, who cautioned travelers who had to take to the road to allow "plenty of time and space between you and the person in front of you."

Travelers going to the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions game were gridlocked on the Platt Bridge, which shut down in both directions for a while. However, after heavy salting efforts, it opened back up, but by then many motorists decided to turn back as near white-out conditions were too treacherous.

Due to the 50-car chain reaction on the PA Turnpike and overall bad weather in the region, New Jersey Transit says it will "cross-honor" tickets on all modes of transportation until the end of the service day on Monday.


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