State website allows travelers to better gauge road conditions

Although no one can predict whether Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow come Groundhog Day on Sunday, it’s fair to say that winter – so far – has at times been quite springlike.

That has boded well for motorists during their travels across the region and beyond. However, if old man winter has a prolonged awakening from his periodic snoozes, the state has a tool that allows motorists to help optimize safe travel.

Specifically, the 511PA website offers an interactive map that allows users to track the locations of the more than 2,200 PennDOT plow trucks that cover state roads.

Ed Orzehowski, PennDOT assistant district traffic engineer, said one of the most useful features of the website is the plow trucks being on there in general, which allows people to see a live update of the location.

Although the plow-truck tracker has been around for more than three years, Joshua Kaufer, PennDOT safety press officer, said it is updated and features are added annually to give people plenty of tools to work with each winter.

“Our biggest challenge is making sure that people are aware of all the useful tools on the website,” Orzehowski said.

One of the newest features added to 511PA is “Who Plows My Road?” It shows whether a road is managed by PennDOT or a local municipality.

“There are roads that only get a thousand cars a day, but are still considered a state road,” Kaufer said.

If one plans to travel along state roads or the Pennsylvania Turnpike, they can use the “Check My Route” feature to see when specific sections of a chosen route were last patrolled by PennDOT plow trucks.

“It’s (the 511PA website) a useful tool and it allows the people to know that we are out there,” Kaufer said.