Making Interstate 80 Safer

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A citizen's group in the Poconos is calling on local leaders to do something about the safety of Interstate 80.

It comes after two tractor-trailer crashes in two days that both messed up traffic in the Stroudsburg area.

That coalition is called "The Safe 80 Task Force." It formed in 2001 with a mission to make Interstate 80 in Monroe County safer.

Now the coalition is hoping the community steps forward to help.

Each day, PennDOT officials said an average of 60,000 vehicles travel on Interstate 80 through the section between the Main Street and Broad Street exits in Stroudsburg.

The speed limit is 50 miles per hour there, but state police said it's something they have a hard time enforcing.

"The berms for us are very small for us to sit on. So you're looking at enforcement in and above that area trying to get people speeding before they go into the s-turns or possibly speeding when they come out," said Trooper David Peters.

The section Newswatch 16 focused on for the story is the section of Interstate 80 that cuts right through the borough of Stroudsburg.

It's also where two recent truck crashes occurred.

While state police say speed plays a major role in the crashes, another major factor are the turns on Interstate 80.

One of those crashes shut down both lanes for hours.

State police said the driver will be cited for driving too fast around the turns.

It's situations like that one that created the "Safe 80 Task Force," made up of concerned citizens who want Interstate 80 to be safer.

The chairman said he believes one solution to reduce crashes is photo enforcement.

"It's actually cameras that use lasers that can take multiple shots, cover multiple lanes.  You'll get a $40 ticket if you're caught speeding and the lasers photograph your license plate and you pay a citation," said Jim Becker, the task for chairman.

PennDOT officials said there is no state law that allows photo enforcement, but the task force hopes for enough support from the community for that idea or to pitch more ideas to reduce crashes.

"We're not against the truckers. We're really not. What you saw in the last two days is due to a distracted driver, speeding, not keeping the speed limit, it's imperative to keep the speed limit," said Robert Phillips, the CEO of the Pocono Chamber of Commerce.

The Safe 80 Task Force meets quarterly and is open to the public.

The next meeting is December 21 at East Stroudsburg University.