PennDOT Plans Revamp of Route 61 in Schuylkill County

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. -- Drivers in one part of Schuylkill County tell Newswatch 16 they're able to breathe a little sigh of relief after a major announcement from PennDOT.

Route 61 from Frackville to Saint Clair will be redone.

According to PennDOT, this massive project is scheduled to begin sometime in 2021. Although that's still a few years from now, drivers who travel that road frequently are already looking ahead.

If there's one thing many drivers have in common when driving along Route 61 from Frackville to Saint Clair it's the tight grip of the steering wheel while navigating the sharp, winding turns downhill.

Those are also concerns for drivers, but there are plans in place to make the ride more enjoyable.

PennDOT announcing a $65 million project to improve Route 61, beginning in 2021. The overhaul includes the realignment of those aforementioned turns, a widening of the road, and improving the overall condition of the roadway. All of this is estimated to take about five years.

"I think it's a great idea because of the road situation there," said Edward Michaels of Frackville. "It gives better control for traffic. You don't have to keep swerving back and forth because of the potholes. It's better on the vehicles if you do hit a pothole. There won't be any now."

"They've been saying they're going to fix it for so long, but it's never been fixed, just waiting for it to be done," Alicia Ferenchick of Hegins Township said.

The popular Coal Creek Commerce Shopping Center is right along Route 61 in Saint Clair. Businesses there hope better road conditions lead to an easier commute for customers.

"It'll help with any type of traffic issues or bad weather. People can get to us a little bit easier. Any kind of improvement to the community is great for us and every business can benefit from that," said Kelli Valenti, part owner of Vito's Coal Fired Pizza.

The project is slated to begin in 2021 and take about five years.