SCRANTON -- PennDOT is planning to do some work this week that would affect thousands of drivers who use Interstate 81 for the rest of the month.
The work is one of the last major steps in completing a $35 million project on Interstate 81 in Lackawanna County.
PennDOT says starting Thursday night, Interstate 81 northbound will be one lane from the North Scranton Expressway exit (191) to Clarks Summit. Crews will be replacing the road in that section for the rest of the month.
The work was originally scheduled to begin Wednesday night, but a deadly crash near the work area has delayed the start by 24 hours.
For two years, since PennDOT embarked on a $35 million overhaul on Interstate 81 in Lackawanna County, officials have been dreading July of 2014. Now it's here and crews are preparing to replace about three miles of the northbound highway near Clarks Summit.
PennDOT spokesperson James May says they are expecting backups that stretch farther than just those three miles
"At this point, we highly recommend folks look at taking the Turnpike if they're going anywhere between Pittston and Clarks Summit. It's a very easy on and off point to utilize the Turnpike."
Interstate 81 northbound is scheduled to be down to one lane starting at the exit most used to get to the Viewmont Mall (191) and will continue to the Clarks Summit exit. That stretch will be only one lane 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the beginning of August.
That news gives drivers like Steve Rought of Archbald even more reason to avoid Interstate 81.
"Probably off and on for about six years, because it's always under construction and delays," Rought said.
Other drivers don't have a choice like Thomas Williams who delivers medical supplies all over Lackawanna County and drives I-81 several times a day.
"Hopefully they're going to be done, because I know the rock cut where they're talking about paving looks like it's pretty much done.
PennDOT officials have spent about two years scaling back a rock wall on I-81 northbound near Clarks Summit and making major improvements to bridges at the Dickson City/Main Avenue exit. They say the roadwork starting Thursday night will be one of the last big steps and the step that will have the biggest impact on people who drive I-81.
"Everyone's lives are going to be slowed down considerably!" said Theresa Steck of Dallas.
PennDOT officials say you can expect changes in the traffic pattern on that stretch of Interstate 81 Thursday night. The work should begin Friday morning and go until the end of this month.