Turnpike signs stir confusion
A two-month delay in posting new exit numbers along the Pennsylvania Turnpike has created some confusion for businesses located along the toll highway.
Exit signs in western Pennsylvania were expected to be changed by this month, but now will not be completed until the end of February, according to Joe Agnello, a state Turnpike Commission spokesman.
The delay has created a problem for the Denny’s Restaurant just off of the Cranberry Township turnpike exit, which now is marked Exit 3 but will become Exit 28 after the change.
State officials told Denny’s, which is owned by Advantica Restaurant Group, the change would be made by Jan. 1. Based on that information, Denny’s bought a billboard advertisement that tells turnpike motorists to stop at its 24-hour restaurant just ahead at Exit 28.
“We just added the new exit number at the end of the year, based on the information we got from the state that Jan. 1 was when the signs will be changed,” said Debbie Atkins, a Denny’s spokeswoman. “I would apologize to any turnpike travelers for any inconvenience. It’s unfortunate.”
Turnpike exits in western Pennsylvania were scheduled to be renumbered based on actual mileage by mid-December. The $200,000 turnpike project was part of a larger statewide movement to renumber interstate exits based on distances from state borders, increasing from south to north, and from west to east.
“By the end of this month or beginning of next month it should be in our neck of the woods,” Agnello said.
United Rentals, the company contracted to make the sign changes, has made the changes on the mainline turnpike to Exit 22 at Morgantown, south of Reading, and all of the turnpike’s Northeast Extension on I-476 from Philadelphia to Scranton, Agnello said.
Agnello said the only business that expressed concern about the numbers change was Idlewild Park, a Westmoreland County amusement park near Ligonier.
Idlewild Park was reluctant to put the new exit numbers on its brochures and advertisements because it feared a delay would confuse customers, said Jerome Gibas, the park’s general manager.
“I was concerned if there was any delay there would be confusing numbers out there,” Gibas said. “Anytime there’s going to be a change, there’s going to be some confusion.”
Idlewild directs Pittsburgh-area customers to the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Exit 7 at Irwin and many customers from the east to Exit 9 at Donegal. Some also use Exit 8 at New Stanton. With the change, Exit 7 will become 67, Exit 8 will be marked 75 and Exit 9 will turn to Exit 91.
After the new exit numbers are posted, the old numbers also will appear on the sign for about a year, Agnello said.
“Eventually, we will take down the old exit sign numbers but that’s going to be a while,” he said.
Denny’s doesn’t plan to take action against the state for the mix-up, rather planning to simply wait for the state to make the changes.
“We are planning to ride it out because we were told a change will be made very soon,” Atkins said.