I-81 Ramp Changes

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There are big changes to an interchange in Lackawanna County. One of the busiest access points to Interstate 81 is being repaired and new traffic patterns have drivers confused.

PennDOT crews have stepped up work on a project to smooth out the interstate ramps on the O'Neill Highway. For the next month drivers will still be able to access both directions of Interstate 81, but the traffic pattern is different and Dunmore police said it has caused some problems.

Dunmore Police Chief Pat Reese said officers shut down part of the O'Neill Highway Wednesday morning after a crash.  He said a driver tried to make a left turn when she collided with an oncoming car.

It was at a left turn lane that never existed before, a new way to get on Interstate 81 northbound drivers in Dunmore found this week.

The traffic patterns at the busy spot have changed and police said it's caused some problems.

"There are some changes up there, and people who are used to traveling the same road every day, they kind of get into that mode and they're not paying attention to what's in front of them. With cars stopping to make a left turn, we're just concerned about some rear-end collisions up there," Chief Reese said.

Police said they will have more patrols in that area while the work is going on.

Drivers will be able to access both directions of I-81 from the O'Neill Highway, but for the next month if drivers are coming from Throop, instead of merging to the right to get onto the interstate they now have to make a left turn.

It was about three weeks ago when PennDOT crews fist started resurfacing the ramps, but only during nighttime hours. Now PennDOT officials said crews will be working 24/7 to finish up the project.

"What we're doing now on both these ramps, we're doing major reconstruction. They've needed it for quite some time and what we need to do is actually close the ramps down now for the next few weeks," said PennDOT's James May.

PennDOT officials said there were a few hiccups when they started the new traffic pattern earlier this week because the newly installed left turn traffic lights weren't synchronized. That has been fixed.

Drivers said the changes had them confused at first and could lead to some safety issues.

"When it's introduced like that, so quickly, it's hard because you're not aware of it," said Carol Repecki.

"It's confusing, it is, and I'm from Dunmore so it's hard enough for me to get used to it. I feel bad for drivers who aren't familiar with the area," said Marcia Shoemaker.

PennDOT said the traffic pattern will stay for at least a month while they finish resurfacing two entrances to I-81.