PIKE COUNTY -- Major road reconstruction is underway at the Pennsylvania state line. PennDOT began the biggest project in northeastern Pennsylvania since the Casey Highway was built in the 1990s and it’s all beginning in Pike County.
Anyone who travels Interstate 84 through Pike and Wayne Counties knows it’s a rough road to travel. Potholes have popped up everywhere and PennDOT says it’s all because of a chemical reaction that causing the road to crumble from the ground up.
Now crews are getting ready to rip up the road and replace all of it.
Diggers and road crews are busy at work along Interstate 84, right at the Pennsylvania New York line as PennDOT kicks off its biggest construction project in northeastern Pennsylvania since building the Casey Highway.
Drivers say this stretch of road in Pike County has been plagued with potholes galore for years.
“The potholes are getting really bad and the tires are blowing out and I try and avoid 84 at all costs,” said Tammy Bohlke of Shohola.
PennDOT says that’s all because of the problem lying deep beneath the surface. The cement concrete mix used to build the highway back in the 1970s is crumbling due to a chemical reaction with the rocks in the ground.
"Right underneath the highway here what's taking place is there's a chemical reaction and the road is essentially disintegrating from the bottom up. That's why we're replacing it,” said PennDOT spokesperson James May.
Traffic is down to one lane from the state line to Milford as crews build cross-overs to divert traffic and begin replacing an eight-mile stretch of road.
Over the next 10 years, the project will span from the state line all the way to about the Greentown exit.
As crews begin this major makeover on I-84, many drivers say they'll be sticking to the back roads, but they say now that detour may be backed up, too.
“No doubt, traffic, and they will have bad roads and potholes. It will be a good alternate route that's not so much a good alternate anymore,” said Bohlke.
Tammy Bohlke usually sticks to Route 209 and Route 6 to avoid the Interstate and is fearful lots of other drivers may do the same. Others say one lane travel in each direction will make driving on 84 worse in the coming months.
"Well the summertimes are going to be the most difficult time because that's when all the vacationers come. Oh, it's definitely going to be a lot heavier traffic,” said Sharon Eversdyke of Milford.
"It is a big project, but I think most of the people who travel this fully understand the importance that we do this and that we do it right. That's what we're doing,” said May.
This road project in total will cost nearly $500 million.
PennDOT tells Newswatch 16 the rocks in the ground in Pike County are the cause of this project and have stopped another nearby on Route 2001 between Milford and Bushkill. Crews found more acid-bearing rock and it will delay fixing up that road for a year, if not more.