Frustrated Drivers Stuck In I-81 Traffic, More Delays Expected

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LUZERNE COUNTY — Drivers say it’s just not fair that they had to sit in backed up traffic Monday while crews fixed holes the pavement of Interstate 81 in Luzerne County.

They feel if the highway had been paved the right way just a couple of years ago, it wouldn’t need to be fixed again, now.

Much of Interstate 81 through Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties was repaved within the last two years, but on Monday PennDOT was patching numerous potholes in a recently paved stretch that started to break apart over the winter.

That meant drivers sitting in traffic for repairs to a road that PennDOT says should still be smooth.

PennDOT crews patched pothole after pothole along Interstate 81 north between the North Cross Valley Expressway and Pittston exits. It’s a stretch that was just paved within the last two years.luz penndot patching

But on this Monday morning, drivers sat in miles of backed up traffic because the road already needed repairs.

“It’s bad,” said Mike Boehm of Swoyersville.

“Well, it made me a little cranky. It slowed us down; we lost about 35 minutes in that.”

Last month, Newswatch 16 told you about the PennDOT investigation into the problem pavement on I-81.

When 20 miles of the highway was resurfaced in Luzerne County within the past two years, a material called microseal was used. PennDOT says it’s supposed to last three or four years.

Now, drivers are being impacted by it breaking down prematurely

“I would be very angry and want to know who gave the specs on the road and what materials were used,” said Karen Trossbach of Albany, NY.

“That’s terrible, that’s terrible. Fortunately, I’m not paying taxes in Pennsylvania,” said Ben Mastro of Albany, NY.

PennDOT patching along the interstate is scheduled to continue Tuesday and there are likely other spots that will also need repairs soon as PennDOT tries to figure out what’s causing the problem that’s making the interstate crumble.

“The cracks are getting deeper, the potholes are getting bigger. I see people with flat tires all the time,” said delivery driver Andrew Race.

Race is on the interstate all the time making deliveries. We told him this work is being done on a road paved less than two years ago at a cost of $10 million.

“I think they need a new contractor, get someone in that’s going to do the job right the first time and just go from there,” Race said.

“Evidently they didn’t do a good job, that’s all I can say,” Boehm added.

PennDOT plans to be back out on the interstate Tuesday patching potholes on I-81 south between the North Cross Valley Expressway and Highland Park Boulevard exits. That’s also a stretch that was recently resurfaced.

You can expect delays there.


  • Bill D

    Why are these contractors never held accountable? Is there no bond put up when they do this sort of work? I have to be bonded and Insured for jobs, WTF?

  • LYNN

    The state should have strict requirements that say if it does not last the company must do it over at their own expense!

  • bobc74

    Last summer when they were resurfacing I-81 between Moosic and Scranton, I was working up in Dickson City and travelling back and forth from Kingston almost every day. There were holes in the new asphalt even as they were doing the resurfacing. I assumed when I first saw them that it was a “first coat” and a second coat was going to be layered over it and smoothed out. But no, those holes were still there, even after the contractors were finished and had removed all of their equipment and signs. I would imagine PennDOT has an inspector who is supposed to sign off on the work after it’s supposedly finished before the contractor is allowed to call the job complete. Whomever that person is was either paid a lot of money by the contractor to “look the other way” or they are just very incompetent at their job.

  • m m

    the company is called APS they are out of new jersey and florida. supposibly a mob ran company. they did I-68 by allentown too. i worked with these guys before. mostly meth and coke addicts.

    • Bill G.

      Hell, Just ask Lebanon County. 81 sucks from the NY state line all the way down to the Lebanon County line. From there on, nothing but clean smooth road.

  • Michael

    The pot holes / pock marks as I call them showed up right after they completed certain sections of 81. It was not weather related and there is no way they can call it weather related. These pock marks are in small trails, it looks as if the material was bad or not properly put down correctly. Yes, the weather has made them worse but it definitely was not the weather in this case.

    I agree to some of the comments above. A number of states do road work at night to eliminate some of the rush hour back ups but also in the Summer months it can help the resources with working under the additional heat.

  • Bob D

    I’ll never understand why they don’t follow the lead of many others states and do this type of work at night

    • Nicole

      I was thinking the same thing… that’s how they do it in Maryland and Virginia… it’s much better to do it at night

  • Michael Graham

    you mean penn dot wastes money intentionally no way…. i moved here from ny and it baffles my mind how many roads have crews working on them yet they always have potholes and penn dots solution to winter plowing is to simply throw salt down instead of plow which breaks down the roads even quicker my dad works in a concrete and asphalt plant nothing breaks down a road quicker then salt if it can eat through metal it sure as hell will eat through road material

  • Lee Ann Taylor

    How about asking PennDOT why I-81 in Susquehanna County, that was paved (completed) in the FALL…this past NOVEMBER…is full of holes and breaking apart! I can tell you why, the pavement was not poured thick enough and it was not properly sealed. So we have a new transportation bill WE have to foot while paying for their mistakes. They are not mistakes…… It is intentional waste, pure and simple. I know. I talked to PennDOT a few times.

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