AASHTO Journal

PennDOT: Project to Widen Part of I-81 Moves Into Final Phase

With the spring construction season under way, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said the final work began this month on a project to widen two miles of busy Interstate 81 in Cumberland County.

PennDOT said the work this spring is the remaining part of a $19.5 million contract that began in September 2016 to widen I-81 between Exit 57 (Route 114) and Exit 59 (Route 581).

Construction resumed March 18 and is scheduled for completion in late May. "The project involved extending the northbound on-ramp as an auxiliary ramp between the two interchanges and extending the westbound ramp from Route 581 along southbound I-81 to the interchange with Route 114," PennDOT said. "These new lanes were opened to traffic last November.penndot-inside.jpg

The remaining work, it said, will resurface the I-81 lanes with new blacktop as weather permits, since it requires temperatures about 35 degrees. "Construction crews will begin base repair to the roadway, which will require single-lane traffic in both the northbound and southbound directions," the agency said.

In a highway segment that carries a daily average of 72,000 vehicles, PennDOT said motorists should be prepared for overnight traffic lane restrictions between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. except for the extended Easter weekend.

And starting at 9 p.m. April 3, it said, "the contractor anticipates starting its milling operation. Milling refers to the removal of the top layer of blacktop. The contractor plans to mill the entire distance between Route 114 and Route 581 prior to paving with new asphalt. Paving operations are anticipated to start the week of April 8."

The paving operations should take place at night through the month of April and possibly into early May, which will also limit traffic to a single lane in one or both directions.

That is to be followed by painting the traffic lines and installing raised pavement markers, pavement legends and delineators.

Meanwhile, installation of permanent signing is under way and will continue until the end of the project. PennDOT also said daytime work in that zone includes painting of sound barriers, installation of right-of-way fencing, final grading of swales and seeding the roadsides. But that should not affect traffic flow, it said, since those activities are off the roadway.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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