MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — On the side of I-376 just before the Thorn Run Interchange, a white Jeep Cherokee sits on the shoulder of the road with a contraption on its roof.
On its front doors is RedFlex, an Australian company contracted by the state that specializes in highway speed enforcement.
Inside the back hatch is a mounted double radar, which watches up to four lanes of traffic and sends alerts to the roof-mounted cameras to take pictures of those who are speeding.
It’s called the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program, and it rolled out across Pennsylvania in the height of the pandemic when most drivers were under a stay-at-home order.
Despite the lighter traffic, PennDOT District 11 Assistant Executive for Construction Jason Zang says, “Since March, statewide 26,000 notices have gone out, about 10% of those are repeat offenders.”
Zang says as authorized by the legislature, the enforcement is being used “only in construction zones” and “the enforcement will only occur when workers are on-site working.”
If you travel through the construction zone at 11 miles per hour or more over the posted construction zone speed limit, you will get a warning the first time.
“The second offense is $75. The third and subsequent offenses are 150. No points on the license,” Zang says.
But Zang says this is not about making money.
“We’re just trying to increase the safety of our workers and the general public that travel through work zones,” Zang said.
This joint operation by PennDot, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Pennsylvania State Police is not a “gotcha” operation.
The construction zones that are going to be targeted each week are listed on the state’s website here.
In addition, there are two signs on the highway that warn drivers that the camera car is ahead. And finally, the vehicle itself is marked as a speed enforcement camera car.
But Zang says whether it caught you speeding, “You will not know unless you get something in the mail.”
This week’s enforcement is planned on I-376 in Allegheny County in the Thorn Run Interchange construction zone. Also on Interstate 70 in Washington County and any construction zone on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Ohio East.
The citation is sent to the vehicle’s owner, who is responsible to pay the fine. And there is an appeal process.
Zang says PennDot and the construction workers have noticed a difference.