LEHIGHTON — Drivers in Carbon County were warned that a detour around a bridge project was starting Friday, likely bringing traffic and confusion, and it certainly has.
We were back in the Lehighton area to see the troubles caused by closing the southbound lanes on the Route 209 McCall Bridge.
The detour is now in effect taking southbound Route 209 traffic away from the McCall Bridge over the Lehigh River into downtown Weissport
Thousands of vehicles will be heading there, and on day one of the detour, that meant backups.
“What about what this summer is going to be like here?”
“Murder, murder,” said one driver.
And the traffic isn’t just on the detour itself. Traffic was also bad on the Lehighton side of the Lehigh River.
While work on the bridge has southbound lanes detoured, one northbound lane can still cross, but traffic to get on the bridge is backing up, partly because the detour has other options off limits.
“We thought we’d take a shortcut around, but they blocked off all the shortcuts off, so we’re all stuck here.”
There are signs up saying you can’t turn. The problem is, locals aren’t noticing some of those. They are so used to these roads they’re not seeing the wrong way, including one just as we stood there talking about it.
We witnessed it ourselves: one driver after another turning the wrong way onto what is now a one-way Bridge Street bridge. You can’t go from Lehighton to Weissport this way anymore but drivers sure are trying, including one who admitted she was confused.
“Why did they let me through there if I can’t make that turn there, go down through there? It’s crazy!”
She was already a little flustered from sitting in all the traffic.
“It took me an hour to get from the McDonald’s on Blakeslee Boulevard to get to the Lehighton Ford dealership there. I sat and sat there, it’s ridiculous.”
“It’s funny, we’ve been sitting here watching. One lady said she’s been having a good time just sitting at Dunkin Donuts watching the traffic,” said Mark Dietrich.
Dietrich’s Midas Garage is right in the middle of it all.
“Everybody is so used to the regular traffic patterns, I guess after a while people will just get used to it.”
PennDOT expects the lane closures and detour from the McCall Bridge project to last through September. All the work to repair the McCall Bridge in the Lehighton area will continue through next year.