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Pothole Causes Traffic Problems on I-81

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.


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