Construction activity resuming on Interstate 81 in Cumberland County
HARRISBURG, Pa.– The unusually warm weather this week in February has prompted the contractor for the Interstate 81 widening project in Cumberland County to resume construction activity several days earlier than originally scheduled. The warmer temperatures are more conducive for painting new traffic lines for the upcoming traffic shift for northbound and southbound motorists.
Starting at around 9 PM tomorrow night (Wednesday, Feb. 22), both northbound and southbound traffic on I-81 between Exit 57 for Route 114 and Exit 59 for Route 581 will be shifted about four feet to the right, toward the existing outside shoulder of the interstate highway. Traffic will also be restricted to a single lane in one or both directions during the overnight hours. The contractor will start installing temporary concrete barrier on the left side in both directions to provide a safe condition for construction crews to work in the median area. The installation of the concrete barrier will take approximately two to three weeks to complete. This operation will be underway Wednesday (Feb. 22) and Thursday (Feb. 23) nights this week, then again – weather permitting — Sunday night (Feb. 26) through Thursday night (March 2); and, if necessary, from Sunday night (March 5) to Thursday night (March 9). Motorists should expect single lane traffic restrictions each of these nights between 9 PM and 6 AM the next morning. The speed limit through the work zone on I-81 will also be reduced from 65 mph to 55 mph and remain that way for the duration of the project.
The construction work this year will include widening into the median area to build a third lane and new inside shoulders in each direction, New overhead sign structures will be installed as well as various basins, pipes and inlets. New concrete approach slabs will be built for the bridge over Lambs Gap Road; and the piers for the overhead Route 114 bridge will be rehabilitated. High-tension cable median barrier will be installed by the end of the project, either this year or early next year.
There is a safety issue on I-81 to which motorists should be alert. All access to the construction area in the median by construction vehicles will be from the left lane of I-81. The construction entrances will be at the location of the existing emergency turn-around in the median, which is about mid-way through the project. This access area for the median means that construction trucks will be slowing down to almost a stop in the left “fast” lane to access the site. This also means that construction trucks leaving the median area will be pulling out from a dead stop into the left lane. Motorists should slow down when traveling through the work zone and be alert to this possibility of slow moving construction vehicles in the left lane, especially construction trucks entering and leaving the construction site in the median area,
PennDOT has contracted with Blooming Glen Contractors of Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania, for $19.5 million to widen this section of I-81.The project involves extending the northbound on-ramp as an auxiliary ramp between the two interchanges and extending the westbound ramp from Route 581 along southbound I-81 to the interchange with Route 114. Prep work on this project began last September. The entire project should be completed by the end of May 2018.
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