DUNMORE — Due to construction and a lane-split on Interstate 81, travelers may want to consider alternate routes throughout Thursday morning.
Both lanes of Interstate 81 North near the Pittston/Dupont Exit 175 were restricted with traffic backed up to Wilkes-Barre in the early hours on Thursday.
According to PennDOT District Press Officer James May, the original goal was to have both lanes open at 7 a.m. Thursday. Construction fell behind and the roadway was not able to open fully. PennDOT decided to fully open the lanes until 10:30 a.m. to allow traffic in the rush hour to move freely.
“They made the decision to open both lanes and get the morning rush hour through,” May said.
At approximately 10:30, however, the lanes will once again be restricted without access to Exit 175. The left lane and the exit will be closed.
At noon, the interstate is expected to be fully open. While crews work on center of the bridge, travelers in the left lane will be traveling on the new portion of the bridge and the right lane will travel on the old portion.
From now until June 2016, the split pattern will be in place. As motorists head north on 81, they will need to make a lane decision approximately one mile before the Pittston/Dupont exit. Motorists in the right lane will be able to exit at 175. Motorists in the left lane will not be able to access the exit because a contractor will be working in the area between the two lanes.
PennDOT once built temporary bridges in these situations, May said. However, that ate up about 40 percent of the project cost just to tear the bridge down.
“We built a third lane on that bridge then we can move all the traffic while we rip out the middle of the bridge,” May said. “When we’re done we’ll have a three-lane bridge.”
May said there are 87 bridges crossing the interstate from Clarks Summit to Nanticoke. The project is part of an 18-bridge construction project.
At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, crews began to set up the split pattern on 81. The split pattern will be in place until June 2016. The entire project is scheduled to be complete by summer of 2017.
PennDOT also announced Route 315 in Pittston Township under Interstate 81 will be closed from 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17 to 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 19 in order to demolish and remove the old bridge on 81 South. This closure will not impact traffic on 81. The closure will take place between Oak Street and the entrance for 84 Lumber. There will be a posted detour in place.