SCRANTON -- Road crews took a big step forward Thursday in a $53 million PennDOT project on Interstate 81 in Lackawanna County.
Workers reopened a ramp that has been tough on traffic and on businesses in Dickson City for more than two years.
A contractor removed black tarp that was hanging over an I-81 north sign for two years. It's a short stretch of road, especially when we're talking about a $53 million highway project, but that short ramp makes a big difference for drivers around here.
Old habits die hard. That's what Carol Sohns thought after making her delivery runs from her business Main Street Bagel in Dickson City.
"I went up towards the mall and got on 81 that way to go to Clarks Summit because I'm just so used to doing that," Sohns said.
It's been two years of re-routing for people who use exit 190 to get on or off Interstate 81. A contractor has been replacing a bridge over Main Avenue there since 2012. Drivers could not get on Interstate 81 northbound here adding some time to their trips.
"Every day, twice a day?"
"Yes, to pick my daughter up from school," said Pam Kobierecki of Dickson City.
"What's it been like the past couple of years?"
"Rough!" Kobierecki replied.
People who live and work in Dickson City say the bridge work tied up traffic off of the highway, too. Whether or not you're looking to go northbound, Main Avenue in Dickson City would slow your down.
"I live in Wilkes-Barre. I own a home in Wilkes-Barre, but I work in Dickson City so it takes a while to get to work, and having the ramp open and closed. When it's closed it's hard, it's really hard," said Aaron Jackson.
Interstate 81 drivers may still experience traffic on the highway while PennDOT wraps up its $53 million overhaul of 81 but they say easier access from the Dickson City/ Main Avenue exit will still make a big difference.
"Oh, it will be so much easier, so much faster. Everybody's going to be thrilled that they don't have to drive all over the place to get somewhere," Sohns added.
Road crews reopened the I-81 northbound ramp around noon Thursday.
Drivers say they're happy to get reacquainted with the route they've always had.