SCHUYLKILL HAVEN — A road project that was on the books before the transportation bill was passed is getting underway in Schuylkill County.
The Route 61 project is designed to relieve a headache for thousands of drivers.
Crews are preparing the way to widen Route 61 in Schuylkill Haven. PennDOT knows that this section is a headache for drivers with delays caused by traffic backups.
“Sometimes it’s an hour or 45 minutes, especially Friday. Friday is really mean, everybody returning home from work. During the weekend it ain’t that bad,” said Bob Bachman of Schuylkill Haven.
“Frustrating, because you’re sitting in traffic for a long time waiting to get through and all,” said Al Purcell of Schuylkill Haven.
“It’s an inconvenience but that’s the way life is sometimes. You have to live with it but you know there is going to be improvements down the line, you know, and it’s part of driving and a way of life,” said Bob Darcangelo of Orwigsburg.
For some people the backed up traffic has changed their habits.
“I usually won’t come up. I stay at home,” said Lisa Underwood of Schuylkill Haven. “I hope it works but I guess it’s going to be a mess for a long time.”
Before the road can be widened, utility companies must move everything from power poles to burying pipe.
PennDOT plans to add lanes in a section of route 61 about a mile long between Cressona and the Penn State Schuylkill campus. The cost: $8.5 million. The project is expected to be complete by the end of next year.
PennDOT officials say the actual widening of Route 61 will begin this summer.