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.When is a permit required and how long is the process?
A.When a driveway, local road or 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 30-90 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 HOP 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 and sidewalk.
  
Q.My driveway has potholes. When can you fix them?
A.PennDOT cannot fix potholes on private driveways, even if the driveways intersect with a state route. PA Title 67, Chapter 441, defines maintenance and repair responsibilities for driveway owners with respect to pavement conditions. Property owners are responsible for fixing the potholes. For more detailed information, PennDOT's highway occupancy permit regulation manuals can be obtained from the local District office.
  
Q.How do I get traffic line paint off of 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.

   
Q.What do I do if my vehicle was damaged by roadwork?
A.If your vehicle or property has been 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 of a private contractor for PennDOT, the Construction Unit in PennDOT's District Office should be contacted. The private 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 that has the full authority to study, erect, and maintain these specially designated spaces.
   
Q.Where my yard meets the road's right-of-way, there are signs. What are their purpose and can they be moved?
A.Signs are installed by local municipalities and PennDOT along right-of-ways to guide, warn, and regulate the motoring public. In some cases, local municipalities and PennDOT may consider relocating signs if they are not installed according to regulations.
   
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 to determine time frame, types of easement, and types of water involved (flowing stream or storm water) before any determination of responsibility can be made.

Generally, PennDOT's roads and bridges serve as a flow area for the transmittal of water across its right-of-way and can discharge water onto private property through highway cross-pipes. When damage may result from upstream land use changes and other circumstances as well as downstream responsibility, it is more difficult to determine responsibility until the research is completed.
   
Q.Will PennDOT put a pipe through my property rather than a ditch?
A.PennDOT does not normally put a pipe rather than a ditch through a private property. The exception would be if PennDOT determines that the infrastructure would need protection by installing an enclosed system of pipes. Enhancement of private property or providing for its development is not legitimate purposes for underground pipe. According to Title 67, Chapter 441, the property owner would be responsible for such improvements in property drainage. PennDOT's highway occupancy permit regulation manuals, that outline the responsibilities, can be obtained from the local District office.
   
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, for further details.
   

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

Non-Civil Service Employment: A current (less than 12 months old) Non-Civil Service Application Form STD-300, on file with the Governor's Office of Administration, Bureau of State Employment (BSE) indicating the type of position and geographic area of interest. When we fill entry-level positions, the BSE refers us candidates for interview and selection. Our selection must come from those candidates referred. Applications are usually available at the administrative offices of all Commonwealth Agencies.

Civil Service Employment: All positions covered by Civil Service require a competitive examination, some written, some oral, and some through document review and evaluation. A candidate must make application to the State Civil Service Commission on Form SCSC-1 for an active examination for a classification title for which they qualify. The commission notifies the candidates following scoring. When entry level positions are filled, we request an employment list from the Commission, schedule candidate interviews and make selections in accordance with their established rules and procedures.

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 and 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 undertaken during the next twelve years. Further the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century of 1998 requires the development of long range plans and transportation improvement programs by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Voluntarily, Pennsylvania has established a rural transportation planning program and works with the existing Local Development Districts. These urban and rural organizations help to prioritize the projects that comprise the Twelve Year Program.
   
Q.What is the Twelve Year Program?
A.With the policy direction of the State Transportation Commission, the Twelve Year Program is developed to address the transportation concerns of the Commonwealth. Input is solicited from the public and interested parties through regional hearings. The program is biennially adopted by the Commission as the outline for improving the Commonwealth's transportation system. Subsequently, the Commission submits the program to the Governor, General Assembly, and Transportation Secretary for approval. The first four year segment of the Twelve Year Program becomes the federally mandated Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which includes the programs developed and proposed by the county and regional planning organizations at the various regional hearings.
   
Q.How do I get copies of the Twelve Year Program?
A.Contact: Secretary to the State Transportation Commission – (717) 787-2913
No Cost - Municipalities
Cost per page for Private concerns
   
Q.Whom do I contact to get a presenter for our meetings (i.e. Lions Club)
A.Contact the Community Relations Coordinator to discuss possible speakers for your organization's meeting.
   

Road Maintenance       top
Q.Which herbicides are used by PennDOT and what are their environmental impact?
A.PennDOT uses these 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 and are used where specified. All herbicides are applied under the direction of a licensed applicator.
   
Q.Why isn't the grass mowed more frequently?
A.PennDOT mows along the interstates and state roads at least three times a year. Mowing is done because of safety reasons. Mowing at this frequency is the most cost effective cycle to control vegetation.
   
Q.If there is a dead animal on a road, who takes care of removing it?
A.Large animals, such as deer, bear, and elk, are the responsibility of the Game Commission. If these or any other dead animals are found on a state road or bridge, the local PennDOT county office should be contacted and arrangements will be made for their removal.
   
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 timeframe and not during peak travelling times but sometimes an extenuating circumstance intervenes.
   
Q.Why do road projects take so long sometimes?
A.Some projects appear to take long because of the type of work being completed. Some direct factors are material availability, utility work, sub-contractor work, and type of structure involved. Indirect factors may be traffic volume, contractor staffing, and contractor equipment.
   

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.IPennsylvania 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. SR4003 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.
   

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 interstates 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. Additional pre-treating and anti-icing materials including magnesium chloride and liquid calcium chloride are currently being evaluated.
   
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.
   
Q.What does it mean to "pump your brakes"?
A.Avoid slamming on your brakes on slippery roads. Hard braking can lock you wheels and cause loss of steering. Apply brakes gently and ease off when you start to skid. Turn wheel in direction of the skid.
If you have anti-lock brakes, pumping is not recommended. Refer to your car manual about how anti-lock brakes differ from standard brakes.

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.
   
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 1-888-783-6783. For those with Internet access, statewide road conditions are available.
   
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.