Tractor-Trailer Crash: A Close Call in a Work Zone

GREENFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. --  Officials at PennDOT say a crash Thursday involving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 could have been a lot worse.

PennDOT officials believe concrete barriers may have saved the lives of its workers after a tractor-trailer lost control right where crews were working on a bridge on Interstate 81.

It was back to work on Friday for the PennDOT crew on Interstate 81 as they work on a bridge that passes over the highway near Fleetville. These workers had their guard up a little more than usual, as the day before, a tractor-trailer lost control and rammed into their work zone before crashing into the median on the busy interstate.,

"We're always careful every day," said PennDOT worker Tom Bradley. "We talked about it this morning and you know we're just being a little extra careful today."

Bradley says he was moving a pickup truck when he saw the tractor-trailer losing control in his rearview mirror.

"I saw the truck coming down and I saw the trailer sideways and it looked like he was going for the wall, so I hit the gas to get out of the way and then next thing you know, concrete went flying and the truck just shot across both lanes, like, right behind us," Bradley recalled.

Paul Menendez was at the worksite at the time of the crash and says it was a sobering experience.

"Because it was such a large crash it actually was sort of frightening," Menendez said.

PennDOT tells Newswatch 16 this will be an active work zone on I-81 for about four weeks. It put those concrete barriers there for the safety of its workers.

"Channelizing devices or cones is not going to stop a tractor-trailer doing 65 miles an hour if it encroaches into a work zone," Menendez said.

Menendez says when drivers see crews out on the interstate, drivers should slow down and pay close attention.

"In this situation that we have, we have two live lanes of traffic and there's no speed limit reduction, just advanced warning signs."

The tractor-trailer damaged the barriers and a PennDOT truck on the other side, but crews are thankful they were in place.

"Absolutely, yeah, if they weren't here, everything you see here probably would have been gone," Bradley said.

PennDOT stressed to us that it is important for folks driving on highways to pay attention to signs that say "road work ahead" and be careful.

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