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Turnpike Call Boxes To Remain Despite Reduction In Usage

FILE (Photo Credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

FILE (Photo Credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

(Source: KDKA-TV) Kimberly Gill
Kimberly Gill anchors KDKA TV News at Noon and 4 with Stacy Smith....
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you have probably noticed the bright yellow call boxes.

They are there for emergencies, but lately they haven’t been getting very much use.

Call boxes used to be considered life-savers if you were in a jam along the highway, but the cell phone era has changed that.

Even though they’re not seeing as much usage lately and cost several thousand dollars a year to run, don’t expect them to be taken down any time soon.

There are more than 1,000 of them, with one every mile, the entire length of the roadway.

However, with just about everyone having a cell phone, the boxes simply aren’t being used as much.

The boxes cost about $200,000 a year to operate, with money that comes from tolls, which continue to jump.

“If we ever did try to remove them, it’d be a significant cost because all these things are embedded in concrete,” Tom Fox from the Pa. Turnpike Commission said.

Still, fewer and fewer people rely on the boxes for help.

In 2000, officials said call boxes were used more than 18,500 times.

Last year, that number was less than 2,500.

Even with the declining trend, Fox said the sometimes-forgotten tools are staying put.

“If your phone goes dead, or whatever might happen, they’re there. And at the very least, you might have to walk at the most, but when you need one, it’s really nice to have,” Fox said.

The $200,000 yearly cost comes from about 55 cents per box, per day.

However, Fox said that’s not a very large expenditure when it comes to drivers’ safety.

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