Pothole Causes Traffic Problems on I-81

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UPDATE 1/14 -- Road crews are reporting the hole is patched.  Both lanes on Interstate 81 north near Pittston are open and traffic is moving normally.

LAFLIN -- A pothole is causing road problems on a busy highway Monday morning in Luzerne County.

This was public enemy number one, Monday morning, along Interstate 81 north, between the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston exits: a giant pothole in a bridge.  A pothole so big, you could see the reinforcing steel.  A pothole so big, you could daylight from below the Interstate 81 bridge over Sunset Drive in Jenkins Township.

State police say this giant pothole is responsible for at least 10 flat tires.

One belonged to Terry Freeman of Dallas.

“I didn’t see it at all.  It was still dark.  It was on the edge of the bridge and covered a bit, you know what I mean, in the darkness?”

Mini Cooper, massive problem. The pothole created a costly morning for Freeman, late for work, $150 for a new tire, and maybe another $300 for a new rim.

The pothole, and others like it, means busy times for Frank Rivera from Lokuta's Garage.

“We've been having a lot of cold and warm spurts, and with all the salt the trucks have been dropping for the snow and everything the ground is just lifting up and creating a whole mess of potholes.”

As he changed tire after tire after tire, Rivera said this is one of the worst pothole seasons in memory.

PennDOT was there to fill the giant tire-eating, rim-bending pothole, but that caused an entirely different problem.

And that problem was slow moving, single-lane traffic.

The concrete on Interstate 81 crumbled at the worst possible time: the start of the morning rush hour. PennDOT says the bridge is getting a new deck  to prevent potholes like this from opening up again.

Officials said morning commuters could face some delays in that area.  PennDOT now says that repairs will continue all night and they hope to reopen the lane sometime on Tuesday.


  • Tom

    11 casinos paying the state tax of 55% compared to 5 % in Atlantic city.
    The casino tax was to be used in part for highways Where in the hell did the casino tax end up

  • Tara

    around 6:10 am, my tire was slashed, rim bent, and now needs alignment asap because of hitting that hole. did you notice the chunks of concrete along the barrier beyond the hole? Hmm, could the penndot plow trucks have caused that? But they were not aware of the hole?

  • sherry

    I was one of the vehicles damaged. It is crazy. It bent my rim. And I missed some time of work. And I might have to get my car aligned. Have an appt with mechanic. To find out

  • Joseph Gwaisditus

    This is what I call this the “Road Neglect Tax” when your vehicle is damages due to road maintenance negligence and we are stuck with the repairs. What did the state do with all the money they raised when they hiked the registration fees and fuel tax last time?? What is going to keep them from squandering the money this time? First of all, they should do away with PennDot’s road crew and bid the roadwork out. A private contractor could never afford to have 2 people working and 6 watching them work! More road maintenance would get done for less money and the bids would keep the work competitive. Although some politicians would certainly have their hand in the cookie jar and make this process corrupt and dishonest as usual! And what happened to all the state owned cards our great Governor was going to get off the roads? More campaign lies! I bet the expense of all these state owned cars would go a long way toward fixing the roads. I have to drive my own vehicle to work and pay for fuel, maintenance, insurance. There is so much corruption in government the taxpayers will never get ahead. It’s no different than getting mugged. We’re getting mugged by the very people we put in office. Are there any honest politicians left?//

  • Tara

    Q. What do I do if my vehicle was damaged by roadwork?
    A. If your vehicle or property has been damaged by work being performed by PennDOT, contact your county PennDOT office for a claim form. If the damage occurred in a construction work zone of a private contractor for PennDOT, the Construction Unit in PennDOT’s District Office should be contacted. The private contractor’s insurance company will be notified of the damage.
    It doesn’t specify what to do if your vehicle is damaged by work not performed by penndot.

  • photowshop

    Negligence..all drivers who had damage ..Get an attorney. There is documentation that pen dot was well aware of this crater…negligence pyre unadulterated negligence. Your increase in gas tax at work? Nope… lining politicians pockets as usual

  • Tara

    God didn’t build that bridge. God was not paid to maintain that bridge. penndot was paid with our money to maintain it. penndot was negligent, extremely negligent in making sure the road was safe. The comment by Shaina states “A girl at work said this hole was there last week and that she hit it, why did it take Pendot so long to do something about this especially on a bridge that is over another roadway.” S O L? I don’t think so. They knew the hole was there and did nothing to warn drivers of it. There has to be something we can do about this! Doesn’t penndot have insurance to pay for their mistakes? When there are car accidents, and state property is damaged (road signs, guardrails, spills, etc.), they charge it to the owner of the vehicle’s insurance. Now its the other way around, so where is their insurance information for us to file a claim against them?

  • dave smith

    That pothole was starting to form on Thursday,there was a big dip in the concrete. There are also several forming in the pavement between WB and Pittston 81N

  • Carole D

    My son was on 81S just past the Scranton exit and before the Davis St exit , where the small bridge meets the road there’s a big pothole. He didn’t even see it, hit it and it cost us a new tire and an alignment . Total cost $331.57 plus lots of time and aggravation!! Then, my sister in law, did the same thing (also said it was impossible to see) the other side of the highway 81 N. She too, blew a tire! Both my son and sisiter in law said there were cars pulled over with them for hittiing those same potholes. That’s 4 people we know of on 1/12/14…Penndot get them fixed ASAP.

  • Mark B. Szymanski

    If the pothole isn’t repaired in an allotted period of time after PENN DOT is notified of its presence then PENN DOT can become liable. Otherwise its considered an act of god and you are S.O.L.

    • pocono_guy57

      PennDOT is more incompetent than our sorry excuse for a governor…if that’s possible. There’s no doubt that they are responsible for causing these hard working folks hundreds of dollars in damage. The problem is, if you try and sue them, they will effectivley hide behind the 11th amendment in the bill of rights. The corrupt judges we are stuck with will always rule in their favor. The only answer I can think of is to vote this numbscull governor out of office…no guarantee that the next one will be any better, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  • shaina

    My boyfriend and I hit this pothole at 6:40 this morning in a VW Beatle, It was very scary, it also cause us to get a flat tire. We didn’t see the hole It was still dark and we were next to a tractor trailer so many things could have went wrong, I’m just thankful that no one was hurt, not a good way to start a morning. A girl at work said this hole was there last week and that she hit it, why did it take Pendot so long to do something about this especially on a bridge that is over another roadway. I do understand that this is the season for potholes but this could have cost lives. I’m still very rattled by the whole event and think somehow the people that were effected should be compensated for tires and car repairs.

  • Annette

    This enormous pothole that opened up on I-81 Northbound between the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston Exits caused multiple damages to vehicles. I called Penndot and they said they are not responsible and will not reimburse anyone for the damage caused. Their response was “with this weather we have been having, these things happen”. Are they kidding me? This wasn’t an isolated instance, as many peoples tires were blown, wheels damaged, accidents. Yes we have car insurance, but what about meeting our deductibles. Cannot believe they don’t cover damages to vehicles in an isolated instance like this one which many vehicles were effected by. Where do our tax dollars go? Overtime? If you can be of assistance, is there anywhere/anyone else we can call and complain to? Our local congressman, etc? Please help.

    • Tara

      It was Penndots fault! I suggest that everyone post the time they hit that hole and what time it was when they contacted Penndot and/or the police to report it. I was just finally able to buy two new tires for my car, and now one is sliced wide open because of that hole! I don’t have the money to buy another right now, and my deductible is higher than the price of a tire. I’m sure I’ll have to get an alignment after that hit. We pay taxes. We pay for insurance. (Claims increase our insurance costs). We paid for the tires. We should not be forced to pay for their negligence! IT WAS THEIR FAULT! WE DIDN’T PUT THE HOLE THERE! They are paid to make sure our roads are safe. If they don’t have to pay, why the hell should we be forced to pay taxes? To keep them employed to do nothing and dodge responsibility because they are “Penndot”? I want to be reimbursed for the damages to my car without it costing me another cent!!!!! Someone please help us.

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