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PennDOT Crews Extend Work Hours on I-81

DUNMORE — It was the first day of three very long weeks for drivers in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties.

PennDOT’s maintenance on Interstate 81 from Drinker Street in Dunmore to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport exit in Avoca began Monday at 7:30 a.m.

The construction began on the passing lane on the southbound side. The rest of this week crews will be working on the southbound lanes and the next two weeks will be on the northbound lanes.

PennDOT spokesperson James May said crews were in a groove Monday afternoon so they worked longer hours than originally planned.

Newswatch 16 followed PennDOT crews on Interstate 81 and monitored the traffic. It seemed to be the worst in Dunmore at the Drinker Street exit where four lanes merged into one.

We talked to some who say they avoided the interstate all together, anticipating it would be slow moving.

“Just trying to find a different route to get around it. I’ve got appointments down in Wilkes-Barre,” said Augie Barhight of Gouldsboro.

But others didn’t realize the construction was happening and took their usual route.

“About 10 minutes maybe, well it depends on how you drive. Traffic is bad,” said one driver.

It normally takes this woman 10 minutes to get from the Casey Highway (Route 6) to the Davis Street Exit but she said it took her a lot longer today.

Work was supposed to end at 3 p.m., but PennDOT officials announced that they would be working until 5 p.m.

Crews poured concrete in the morning and were going to continue to work while they waited for it to dry.

PennDOT officials say as of 2 p.m., crews patched 30 tons worth of potholes, crack sealed three miles of the southbound passing lane and picked up 91 bags of litter.

“Traditionally, we’ve been the worst state in the country for potholes. It needs to be done. God bless them; they’re working and doing something,” said Barhight.

Work will resume Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. in the southbound driving lane.

PennDOT officials advise drivers to avoid the area for the next three weeks. Work will be Monday through Friday with Saturdays serving as rain dates.