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Barriers Causing Traffic Problems on I-81

Drivers dealt with major backups in the Schuylkill County area on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Cars were bumper to bumper and brake light to brake light on Interstate 81 near the Mahanoy City Exit.

George Tofte said this is the first trouble spot he’s hit between New York and his final destination of Baltimore.

“Every time I go through Pennsylvania, anybody you talk to from New York, anybody that goes through 81, travels on 81 is going to get backed up at some point. I don`t know what it is, but they`re always working on it,” said Tofte.

PennDOT is working to repair parts of Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County, and has had traffic blocked off to one lane, but drivers are angered work is even going on at all.

“Absolutely, you cut it off at something like this,” said Tofte.

Construction crews began removing barriers for the holiday weekend in the morning, as traffic already began piling up for several miles. Many people said they’ve been avoiding the mess for a while.

“At all costs, 81`s always a wreck around here, a wreck waiting to happen,” said Robert Miller of Frackville.

The jersey barriers that once lined the roadway in that part of Schuylkill County are now gone, and drivers said opening this up to two lane travel will bring some much-needed relief through the holiday weekend.

However, that relief isn’t coming soon enough for some drivers, and out-of-towners said they don’t have any idea where to turn .

“Well there`s not much you can do, especially around the main highway here, and there`s no detours unless you know one,” said Roland Pouliot of Rhode Island.

PennDOT said crews waited until the day before Thanksgiving to remove the barriers because that’s what was specified in the project’s contract.

The barriers will be gone all weekend, but PennDOT said I-81 traffic will be back down to one lane near Mahanoy City on Tuesday.


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