The barriers came down and Interstates 78, 80 and 81 were opened to all traffic at 4 p.m. today, ending an embarrassing saga for Pennsylvania's transportation department.

PennDOT assigned 150 employees and 141 pieces of heavy equipment, along with untallied gallons of liquid magnesium chloride, to finally break up patches of ice and snow - some up to 6 inches thick - that had forced the highways closed since Wednesday's storm.

The worst was I-78, where some motorists were stranded for more than 24 hours, prompting Gov. Rendell to issue a public apology on Friday. He launched an investigation into why the highway wasn't properly treated before and during the storm.

State police for the time being will maintain a presence on all three interstates to keep speeds at 45 m.p.h. because of some remaining slick spots, PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said.

Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which have been waived since the storm to ease congestion, were to be reinstated at 8 tonight, Chizmar said.

Contact staff writer Diane Mastrull at 610-313-8095 or dmastrull@phillynews.com.