Frequently Asked Questions

You can report potholes, damaged and missing signs, or other highway and bridge maintenance concerns to 1-800-FIX-ROAD.



Personal Property Issues       top
Q.Whom do I contact if I live along a state route and wish to have my driveway paved ?
A.Contact the Highway Occupancy Inspector assigned to the PennDOT maintenance office for your county of residence. In many cases, paving of a driveway is considered "maintenance only" and it would be only necessary to have the proper traffic control to do the work. It is always necessary to contract the PennDOT permit Inspector first to determine if this is your situation.

Inspectors:
Bedford & Fulton: Kelly Hoover, Phone 623-6144
Cambria County: Jesse Theys, Phone 419-1157
Huntingdon & Blair: Craig Yohn, Phone 696-7264
Somerset County: Bernie Nanna, Phone 445-7905
   
Q.When is a permit required, and how long is the process ?
A.When a driveway, local road, drainage facility, or structure is constructed, or altered within state highway Right-of-Way and may alter or need to be connected to a PennDOT drainage facility, a permit is required. It may take 30 to 90 days for a permit to be issued.
   
Q.My township or borough has notified me of necessary sidewalk and/or curb replacement, however, I live along a state route.
A.Contact the Highway Occupancy Permit Inspector in the PennDOT maintenance office in your county to initiate the proper procedure for installing sidewalks and curbs in accordance with state regulations.
   
Q.What is the status of this permit application ?
A.Contact the Highway Occupancy Permit Inspector, in the appropriate PennDOT county maintenance office. Verify that the item in question is a Highway Occupancy Permit Application. Provide the application number, county, state route number, and your name. PennDOT has a 60 day period in which to review each application. If the application, and proposed design follow the regulations and requirements, then the review generally takes less time. Sometimes an application will need to be reviewed by additional units depending upon the location, and nature of work, (i.e. within a planned construction area, delicate or specialized work).
   
Q.Why does PennDOT not replace curbs and sidewalks ?
A.By Pennsylvania state law, the local municipality or property owner is responsible for the maintenance or installation of curbing or sidewalk. Furthermore, it is policy to use betterment funds for roadway improvements, However, in certain unusual circumstances, the department has replaced curbing and sidewalks. In an effort to minimize the need for right-of-way acquisition, curbing has been installed. Also, in areas where construction, widening, or substantial roadway grade changes result in the removal of existing curbing or sidewalk, the department may replace in kind.
   
Q.How do I get traffic line paint off my car ?
A.As soon as possible after getting paint from road stripes on vehicle wash the vehicle at a pressure car wash. This will loosen and remove most of the paint unless it has dried for more than a day.

If the car wash does not remove the paint, allow the water to dry off the vehicle. Spray the paint residue with WD-40 and allow the WD-40 to stay on the area for 1-2 hours and rewash the vehicle. The WD-40 will soften the traffic paint without hurting the vehicle finish. If there is a heavy concentration, repeat the procedure.

For heavy accumulations or paint that has dried for several days, apply a liberal coating of petroleum jelly to the dried traffic paint and allow to stay on overnight. Take vehicle to a pressure car wash and wash. This should remove most of the traffic paint. Repeat the procedure if needed.

*DO NOT SCRUB THE FINISH WITH A SOLVENT OR SCOURING CLEANSER!!!! THIS WILL DAMAGE THE FINISH.

After cleaning the paint away apply a good car wax to the vehicle’s finish. Wax should remove any lasting signs of the traffic paint.

Wheel wells are very difficult to remove the paint from since they are normally a flat finish. Apply a liberal coating of petroleum jelly to the area and leave for several days and then pressure wash. Applying an alcohol such as Solox or Rubbing Alcohol to the area in the wheel well will help to soften any residue left after the petroleum jelly.

Again DO NOT SCRUB! Just apply with a very wet rag or sponge.

If it can not be removed, contact the District 9-0 Traffic Unit at 696-7230.
   
Q.What do I do if my vehicle was damaged by roadwork ?
A.If your vehicle was damaged by work being performed by PennDOT, contact your county PennDOT office for a claim form. If the damage occurred in a construction work zone, in which a private contractor is performing the work for PennDOT, the construction office should be contacted. 696-7134, The contractor's insurance company will be notified of the damage.
   
Q.How do I get a handicapped parking space in front of my home ?
A.Contact your local municipality, which has full authority to study, erect, and maintain these specially-designated spaces.
   
Q.Who is responsible for drainage ?
A.Pennsylvania highway and bridge laws are very complicated, and extensive with various interpretations based on case law. Every drainage situation must be field-viewed and researched, before any determination of responsibility can be made.
   
Q.Will PennDOT cut slopes or vegetation to improve sight distance at my driveway ?
A.No, PennDOT will not cut slopes, or vegetation to improve sight distance according to PA Title 67, Chapter 441, because sight distance improvement is the responsibility of the driveway owner. Please refer to PennDOT's highway occupancy permit regulation manuals, which can be obtained from the local district office, (Hollidaysburg) for further details.
   

Human Resources       top
Q.What is the proper procedure for being hired, and the status of the employment process ?
A.The following are the different types of employment.

   
Q.How do I find out about vacancies when they occur ?
A.There is no current system for ensuring notification of vacancies. When vacancies occur, they are posted in PennDOT and other state agencies' offices, depending upon the job descriptions.
   

Planning & Programming       top
Q.How does PennDOT prioritize its major projects ?
A.Act 120 of 1970, as amended, requires PennDOT to prepare and submit to the State transportation Commission every two years a program of transportation improvements that it recommends to be under taken, during the next 12 years. In addition, the Federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century requires the development of long range plans and transportation improvement programs by Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Voluntarily, Pennsylvania has a rural transportation planning program called Local Development Districts. These organizations help to prioritize the projects that comprise the Twelve Year Program.
   
Q.What is the Twelve Year Program ?
A.Transportation programming in Pennsylvania is governed by both state and federal legislation. State legislation requires that the Commonwealth develop and maintain a 12 Year Transportation Program, and that the program be reviewed, revised, adjusted, and extended every 2 years. The State Transportation Commission manages the development of the 12 Year Transportation Program, with PennDOT providing the staff support. Federal legislation requires that the state develop and maintain a Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which comprises a minimum of 3 years, and that each Metropolitan Planning Organization develop and maintain a Transportation Improvement Program, for their region. Each Transportation Improvement Program will also cover a minimum of 3 years. Moreover, the individual Transportation Improvement Programs are to be included verbatim in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. The Metropolitan Planning Organizations, in cooperation with PennDOT, manage the development of their individual Transportation Improvement Programs. PennDOT collaborates with Local Development Districts on the prioritization of projects in rural areas of the Commonwealth. The results of those collaborative efforts are the rural equivalents of Transportation Improvement Programs. PennDOT then assembles all of these Transportation Improvement Programs into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which is submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for their approval.
   
Q.How do I get copies of the Twelve Year Program ?
A.Contact: Secretary to State Transportation Commission - (717) 787-2913

No Cost to municipalities.

Cost per page for private citizens or groups.
   
Q.Whom do I contact to get a presenter for our meeting (i.e. Lions Club) ?
A.Contact the community relations coordinator to discuss possible speakers for your organization's meeting.

Tara Callahan-Henry - Community Relations Coordinator Phone: 814-696-7101
   

Right-of-Way (Areas Along State Roadways)       top
Under the Constitution of the United States, it is the right of the Commonwealth to acquire land for public purposes. According to "Eminent Domain", the states have the inherent "right of passage" to acquire land when it is needed for public use. PennDOT's purpose is to establish a transportation system that is effective and efficient as possible for the public.

Right-of-Way is the term used to describe the acquisition of another's land. When the commonwealth acquires land for highway right-of-way purposes, it is actually obtaining "right of passage" over land on which a public road ultimately will be built or expanded. PennDOT will execute this right only when it will benefit the public.

Right-of-Way Dimensions
Q.What is right-of-way and how do I know how wide it is?
A.Right-of-way includes the easement or land purchased by PennDOT on which a highway is built, as well as shoulder or berm, plus any additional area needed for highway purposes. While it is often 33 feet wide, it may be much wider (120 feet or more in some cases), since it extends beyond the paved road and shoulders. Contact the PennDOT District 9-0 office to find out what the right-of-way is for a specific location.
   
Q.What is an encroachment?
A.An encroachment is any object placed without permission within the legal limits of a highway right-of-way. Some examples include signs, fences, walls, and lights. Objects generally are not permitted in the right-of-way unless the objects serve an official highway purpose (utility poles and properly placed mailboxes are exceptions).
   
Q.What is PennDOT's responsibility in regard to right-of-way encroachments?
A.PennDOT provides the owner of an encroachment with a written request to remove it. If the encroachment is not removed, PennDOT is authorized to remove it and to collect removal costs from the owner. Also, the state highway law provides a penalty for encroachment violations, upon summary conviction.
   
Signing and Objects in Right-of-Way
Q.Why does PennDOT control outdoor advertising signs?
A.PennDOT is required by law to control outdoor advertising signs adjacent to interstate and federal-aid primary highways in order to receive its full share of federal highway funds, which are necessary to build and maintain Pennsylvania's roadways. By ensuring the orderly and effective display of outdoor advertising, we remain consistent with national policy to protect the public's investment in our highways. We also protect Pennsylvania's natural beauty.
   
Q.Where can I place my sign?
A.Generally along federal-aid primary highways and interstates, signs may only be erected in commercial or industrial areas subject to the limitations concerning size, spacing between signs, and lighting. Locations are more restrictive next to interstate highways. Along state routes without federal funding, a sign may not encroach the right-of-way without a permit. Contact your local PennDOT District office for details.
   
Q.Can my sign be placed in the highway's right-of-way?
A.No. Only official traffic signs can be put in the right-of-way areas. This includes signs placed on utility poles and other small temporary or portable signs.
   
Q.Do I need a permit to erect a sign?
A.Whether you need a permit for your sign depends on whether the sign is an on-premise or off-premise sign along a federal-aid primary highway or interstate. Along state routes without federal funding, a permit is only needed if a sign will encroach on the right-of-way area.

On-premise signs, which advertise products or services available on the property where the sign will be located, have few restrictions. They generally do not require an application or permit; however, if such a sign will be located further than 50 feet from the building or parking lot or the property is along an interstate highway, other factors may need to be considered. You should check with PennDOT first.

Off-premise signs are those which advertise something not sold on the property where the sign will be located. These signs DO require permits, and must meet size, lighting, and spacing requirements. Before you erect an off-premise commercial advertising sign, an application must be submitted to a PennDOT District office and a permit obtained. An annual permit fee is also required.
   
Q.If my sign complies with state law; must it also comply with local laws?
A.Yes. Before PennDOT will issue a sign permit, the proposed sign must also meet all applicable county and municipal requirements.
   
Q.Who is responsible for an illegal sign?
A.The person who erects or maintains an illegal sign, as well as the individual who allows an illegal sign to exist on his or her property is responsible for the sign.
   
Q.What is PennDOT's responsibility for an illegal sign?
A.PennDOT is obligated by law to remove illegal signs. PennDOT will first send a written request to the responsible person(s) to remove the sign. If not removed, PennDOT is authorized by law to enter private property to remove the illegal sign and to collect the cost of removal from the responsible person(s). The law also provides a $500 per day fine for the person(s) responsible for the illegal sign, upon summary conviction.
   
Q.Can I erect a sign with flashing lights or arrows?
A.No. Such signs are prohibited because they could distract motorists and pose a safety hazard.
   
Q.Are electronic message signs allowed?
A.Temporary signs as those noted above which are placed on private property (off the highway right-of-way) with the property owner's permission, are generally regarded as on-premise signs and do not require a permit. They should be removed as soon as they have served their purpose.
   
Q.Why can't objects be placed in the right-of-way?
A.For two reasons: public safety and legal liability. These objects may interfere with a driver's view of other traffic, official traffic signs, and traffic signals. Accidents may be a result of obstruction. If a motorist collides with an illegally placed object, the owner of the object and PennDOT may be sued for the resulting injuries and damages.
   
Q.How do we get our town, borough, village, and etc. name on the signs on an interstate highway?
A.The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has control over interstate highway signs with stringent guidelines. Contact the Engineering District Traffic Unit that will work with you in making a request to the FHWA.
   

Road Maintenance       top
Q.Which herbicides are used by PennDOT and what are their environmental impact?
A.PennDOT uses the herbicides: Round-Up, Escort, Arsenal, Garlon-3A, Oust, Karmex, Vanquish, Krenite-S, Assure II, and Rodeo. There are few, if any, environmental problems with these herbicides. Each has caution labels, pasture labels, ditch bank labels, or aquatic labels. The only environmental problem that could occur is if the wrong herbicide is used in the wrong area. For example, Rodeo is an aquatic herbicide, so if Round-Up is used in its place, there would be a problem.
   
Q.Why isn't the grass mowed more frequently?
A.PennDOT mows along the interstate and state roads at least three times a year. Any more would be cost prohibitive. Mowing is done because of safety and vegetative management (to control weeds, saplings, etc.).
   
Q.If there is a dead animal on a road, who takes care of removing it?
A.If a dead animal is found on a state road or bridge, the local PennDOT county office should be contacted for expediting the removal process. You can also call 1-800-FIX-ROAD.
   

Traffic Issues       top
Q.Who is responsible for speed limits?
A.Local municipalities and PennDOT are responsible for setting speed limits.
   
Q.How do I get the speed limit changed?
A.Contact your local municipality. The municipality will then request an engineering and traffic study to be done by PennDOT.
   
Q.Why is the speed limit higher going out of town than coming in?
A.Pennsylvania Law requires a speed limit of 35 M.P.H. when, "The territory contiguous to and including any street which is built up with structures devoted to business, industry, or dwelling houses situated at intervals of less than 100 feet or distance of a quarter of a mile or more." Therefore, when you are entering a town, you must by law, decrease your speed to 35 M.P.H. When you are leaving the town, the speed limit usually increases because the area is not as condensed. The township posts the speed limit, which is usually higher than a borough.
   
Q.Why were traffic lines painted this way?
A.Traffic lines are traffic control devices that are designed according to the safety need(s) of the route(s).
   
Q.What's the volume of traffic (A.D.T.) on that road?
A.Call the Traffic Unit with the State Route number and specified segment (i.e. S.R. 4003 SEG. 10). State Route numbers can be found on the rectangular white signs with black letters posted along the state routes.
   
Q.How can I get a student-walking route declared hazardous?
A.Only school districts can request a study of a student-walking route. Contact the District Traffic Unit for information and the school district can request a study.
   
Signs and Signals
Q.I would like a "School Bus Stop Ahead", "No Parking", "Lower Speed Limit", etc. sign erected. How does this get done?
A.Depending on the area in which you request the sign to be erected, contact your school district about a "School Bus Stop Ahead" sign or the local municipality for all other types of signs. School districts and local municipalities are responsible for the erection and maintenance of their signs. PennDOT conducts the study of whether a sign is needed.
   
Q.How does someone request a traffic signal?
A.Contact your local municipality. The municipalities purchase, erect, and maintain the signal.
   
Q.Who is responsible for the traffic signal maintenance?
A.The local municipalities are responsible. PennDOT designs and issues permits for the local municipality.
   
Q.How do I get the timing of a traffic signal changed?
A.Contact the local municipality in which the traffic signal is located. The local municipality will then contact PennDOT to officially request a timing change to the existing signal permit.
   
Q.Why is PennDOT involved with traffic signals on a municipal highway?
A.Permits are issued by PennDOT to erect traffic signals in order to insure uniformity of signal design and operation.
   

Construction       top
Q.Why do contractors work while people are coming from or going to work, especially in the summer?
A.Every project is prepared with a Maintenance and Protection of Traffic Plan (MPT) signed by the District Traffic Engineer and the Assistant District Engineer for Construction. The MPT gives direction to the contractor about when he can work on the roadway, take out lanes of traffic, detour traffic, etc. This direction is based on our best analysis of traffic flow and is sensitive to peak traffic volumes. Our primary construction season is from April through October. We try to complete projects during this time frame and not during peak travelling times but sometimes an extenuating circumstance intervenes.
   
Q.Why can't highway contractors work on busy roads during the overnight hours when traffic is lightest?
A.In some cases, our contractors do work on highways during the overnight hours. Some are required to work during these hours, especially on expressway projects and other high speed, high volume highways. And many have the option to work any schedule they choose. However, working at night on our busy highways is more dangerous for both the workers and drivers. Plus, working at night is more expensive, as the work area is required to be illuminated for reasons of safety and quality control. Given the current budget challenges, we need to be responsible stewards of our funds and get the most for every transportation dollar.
   
Q.Sometimes in a construction zone, lanes are closed, but no one appears to be working. Why is this?
A.In cases where the lane restrictions are long term, lanes are closed at the start of the project and remain so until its completion. On some large projects, these work zones are extensive, and crews are moving around within the work area or simply working out of view of motorists. On high speed highways, the work area includes a lengthy transition or a buffer zone to protect the highway workers. Since the cost to set up and maintain these long term work areas is extremely expensive, it is often far more cost effective to close off the entire project area and complete the project. Many times, restrictions are maintained while cement from repairs dries. Muchof the material we use is weather and temperature dependent.
   
Q.Why do road projects take so long to complete?
A.Some projects appear to take long because of the type of work being completed. Many construction projects are phased to prevent complete closure of the roadway to traffic or establishing a detour, whenever possible. Some other direct factors are material availability, utility relocation work required, sub-contractor work requirements and complexity of the structural work involved. Indirect factors are traffic volume, right-of-way, contractors staffing and contractor equipment requirements.
   

Winter Services       top
Q.How does PennDOT prepare for a major snowstorm?
A.The Department of Transportation currently uses a number of devices to track storms, including weather radar, pavement sensors, and forecasting services. These elements enable PennDOT to quickly mobilize our employees and equipment and get a head start on approaching winter storms.
   
Q.I live on a back road. Why does it take so long for PennDOT to service my road?
A.PennDOT services roads on a priority basis according to traffic volume. State roads with the highest amount of traffic, such as interstate and four-lanes, receive service first, followed by secondary roads. During a winter storm, PennDOT employees work around-the-clock so that all types of roads receive adequate service in priority order.
   
Q.What does PennDOT put on slippery roads in the winter?
A.Salt, anti-skid, or a combination of these are applied to roadways during snow and ice removal operations. Anti-skid is a natural or man-made aggregate material such as sand, fine stone or manufacturing by-product. Salt helps to melt the snow or ice and the anti-skid provides for traction. The amount of material on the roadway depends on type of road, type and duration of storm, and temperature. Salt Brine is also used to pre-treat roadways when needed.
   
Q.How does PennDOT service all the state roads throughout a county effectively?
A."Stockpiles" are located throughout each county, which contain anti-skid material. Several trucks are assigned to each stockpile to service the roads in that area of the county. PennDOT also receives assistance from local municipalities and contract sales on servicing some roads.
   
Q.During a snowstorm, why is only one lane plowed on a multi-lane highway?
A.Often, only one lane is plowed because the driving lane has the highest priority during the storm. Whenever possible, "tandem plowing" (two trucks plowing side by side) takes place.
   
Q.Why does a truck move so slowly while plowing snow and spreading anti-skid?
A.The driver must adjust his or her vehicle speed according to various conditions such as heavy or wet snow, ice, or residential areas. If traveling too fast, anti-skid will not stay on the road. Before you decide to pass a truck, however, ask yourself, "Is this pass really necessary?" Passing a snowplow can be extremely dangerous. There is never a "safe" time to pass, but if you must, do it with extreme caution.
   
Q.What is a safe distance to follow behind a truck plowing snow?
A.The normal safe following distance between two vehicles (2-second rule) should be doubled during inclement weather. When following a truck, your headlights should be on low beam. Remember every truck has blind spots. This is an area to the side and rear not visible by the driver of the vehicle; it is greater for trucks. In addition, following too closely increases your chances of loose material flying up and damaging your vehicle.
   
Q.Why do bridges freeze before road surfaces?
A.Because the air below the bridges tends to cool the bridge faster than the normal road surface. Also, be cautious of shaded areas that don't receive sunlight and drifted areas along the road.
   
Q.What is "black ice"?
A.Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice not always visible on the roadway but very slippery.
Most important, drive smart! Think ahead! Drive at a reduced speed!
   
Q.Why doesn't PennDOT replace mailboxes that it knocks down?
A.In all cases, we try to avoid damaging anyone's property. However, mailboxes are often placed in the state's legal right-of-way, which means that the Department of Transportation is not liable for damages to mailboxes caused by snow removal operations. We suggest property owners ensure their mailbox rests on a firm support so it will be better able to withstand the "windrow" of snow from the plow. Mailbox Support Diagram
   
Q.How can I prepare my vehicle for winter travel?
A.Clean snow and ice from your windows and mirrors before traveling. Make sure all lights are working, and always use your headlights during a storm. Keep wiper blades in good condition, and keep all fluid levels full. Check tires for tread and proper inflation, and add weight to rear-wheel drive vehicles. Carry emergency equipment in your car such as flares, a shovel, chains, flashlight, jumper cables, sand, a hat, boots and gloves.
   
Q.Are there any "rules" for winter driving?
A.Remember this: Drive cautiously. Avoid making any sudden moves or fast turns. Avoid quick acceleration or hard braking. Slow and easy is the rule. And for good reason--your safety.
   
Q.Why does PennDOT plow snow on my sidewalks?
A.By legislation, PennDOT is required to maintain the traveled cartway, defined as traveled lanes, as its first priority. When limited storage space or shoulder areas allow no alternative, the decision must be made to either plow the highway at the risk of the sidewalk or to do nothing. Based on case law in Commonwealth Court, PennDOT may inconvenience the property owner by plowing snow on the sidewalk rather than allowing snow accumulation to become a hazard on the highway. In consideration of our customers, we always recommend that where minimal storage space for plowed snow is an issue, our operators should exercise caution and minimize the impact on sidewalks whenever possible.
   
Q.Why do you have to plow my driveway shut?
A.Frequently, it appears that PennDOT plows driveways shut after the property owners have already plowed their driveways. These complaints occur on our rural systems due to the fact that our highways are plowed in a priority order, beginning with the highest traffic volume routes and working toward the lower, or rural, traffic routes. Consequently, the rural driveway owners have completed the removal of snow on their driveways prior to our plowing operations. Further complicating this issue is our method of plowing cartways (traveled width) first, then following up with a cleanup and widening operation. This frequently results in the driveway owner immediately plowing his or her driveway after our truck makes its first pass, only to discover that our cleanup and widening pass deposits additional snow.

Several ways that the impact of the plowing operation can be minimized are to remove snow only to approximately 10 feet from the end of your driveway until the all passes are made by the snowplows. Another method is to clean an area in addition to your driveway on the right side of your driveway facing it from the roadway. This allows a plow blade full of snow to be deposited before it reaches your driveway.
   
Q.What are the dates when it is permissible to have on studded snow tires?
A.Studded snow tires are permissible from November 1 until April 15.
   
Q.In inclement weather, people call asking what the road conditions are. Who can they call?
A.For current Interstate road conditions throughout Pennsylvania, people can call 511. For those with Internet access, statewide road conditions are available at http://www.511pa.com/ .
   
Q.Will PennDOT pay for any paint chips, cracks, windshields, or other damage to my car caused by their spreading of anti-skid?
A.Generally, PennDOT is not held responsible for damage caused by the application of abrasives for winter services unless vehicles are struck directly from material leaving our spreaders and the claimant can demonstrate gross negligence on the part of our equipment operator. The Department of General Services claim form is available at PennDOT county offices for the claimants to exercise their right to attempt reimbursement.
   
Q.Will PennDOT repair grass (turf) damage after heavy snow removal activities and clean debris out of my yard?
A.Typically, this damage occurs during very heavy snowfalls requiring the use of loaders and large snow blowers, which do not perform in the same manner as our truck-mounted snowplows. However, the damage is generally confined to the legal right-of-way. While it is unsightly, the frequency and severity is proportional to the snow depths. PennDOT does not repair these turf damages or remove deposited debris within the right-of-way limits on a routine basis. If property owners insist on reimbursement for conditions that occur beyond the legal right-of-way, we supply the standard Department of General Services claim form, which is available through the PennDOT county offices.