PITTSTON TOWNSHIP — Ground was broken Wednesday on a massive $42 million construction project in Luzerne County.
PennDOT says roundabouts are part of the solution to traffic congestion around the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Part of the project includes overhauling short on and off ramps from Interstate 81 to Avoca and to the airport, but instead of stop signs, PennDOT is building something rare in our area: three large roundabouts.
The groundbreaking marked the beginning of a two-year construction project that PennDOT says has been needed for years near the airport.
PennDOT project manager Chris Tomaszewski says Interstate 81 near the Avoca exit will be widened. Most of the stop signs you encounter between the highway and the airport or Dupont will be a thing of the past.
“If they’re going southbound and they want to get off, they’ll be going through two roundabouts, then through a third roundabout to get to the airport,” Tomaszewski said.
PennDOT believes roundabouts will be safer than the intersections being used now.
George Abraham says he’ll feel safer driving on the ramps to 81 once the project is complete.
“The ramps are really tough. You`re going extra slow to come around that tight turn. If there’s a truck, once you come around that turn, you either have to accelerate like you’re in NASCAR or you need to slow down and let him go.”
Along with the highway improvements, contractors will also link Navy Way Road to the Grimes Industrial Park by building a road right through the middle of the runway lighting structure.
PennDOT says that work has been cleared by the federal government. It expects about 95 acres along that new road to be available for economic development.
Dupont leaders hope that new road will take heavy truck traffic off Suscon Road and around communities including Avoca and Dupont.
“A lot of times GPS (devices) here at the airport get messed up. People get stuck running around. This will help in all directions,” said Dupont Council President Stanley Knick.
Contractors say their target to finish this $42 million project is November of 2015.
Until then, you can expect to see some delays once construction gets started on and around I-81 near the airport.