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PennDOT, Turnpike care what you think

| Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

PennDOT and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials believe they are on the road to enlightenment.

The agencies teamed up for an online survey to gauge how motorists obtain traffic information and how it impacts driving habits. The anonymous questionnaire is available on the PennDOT and Turnpike websites.

I commend their attempt to improve delivery of information. But the department and commission are squandering an opportunity to gain valuable insights into what people think about other aspects of their operations.

The agencies should consider adding questions applicable to all motorists who use the turnpike, and then add region-specific questions regarding state-maintained roads, bridges and tunnels. With a minimum of online tinkering, the survey could be lengthened:

What aspect of driving the turnpike most appeals to you?

__ Going past the hundreds of obsolete emergency call boxes that can't be used to call anyone.

__ Mounting a new E-ZPass transponder directly below the rearview mirror.

__ The conversational bon mots from toll booth attendants.

__ The service plaza ambience.

Besides traffic updates and road conditions, what would you like to see displayed on our variable message signs?

__ Sports scores

__ Horoscopes

__ Cute cat videos

__ Award-winning foreign films

Should service plazasadd bank branches to more easily enable motorists to apply for loans to pay the turnpike's skyrocketing tolls?

__ Heck yes! As long as the banks provide free Steelers-themed rearview mirror accessories with each completed application.

__ No way! That would greatly lessen the likelihood of every service plaza having enough available space to house a Sbarro.

How have you been impacted by the frequent weekend Squirrel Hill Tunnel closures?

__ Discovered it's possible to get from Downtown Pittsburgh to Swissvale via Erie, but it takes a while.

__ Learned “detour route” and “standstill” can be synonymous.

__ Other than having to get food supplies dropped in by helicopter because my neighborhood is part of the detour and gridlocked during closures, not at all.

Are you greatly anticipating driving on the reconfigured Route 28 when crews complete the project?

__ No. I've made good friends over the years with flaggers on the project and I'm worried that our Thursday night poker games might not survive when the road work is done.

__ Absolutely. I've made arrangements to have myself cryogenically frozen so I can be reanimated when the work is finished sometime in 2312.

ATTENTION: NEXT SIX QUESTIONS CLOSEDFOR SENTENCE RECONSTRUCTION

DETOUR THROUGH McDONALD'S CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY ON NEW QUARTER-POUNDER BURGER VARIETIES

STAY IN LANE UNTIL MERGE POINT

Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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