PennDOT unveils exit fix

BY STACI WILSON

Plans are underway to fix the Gibson exit off Interstate 81.

At an informational open house held Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the New Milford Township building, PennDOT representatives and design engineers met with local business owners and residents.

The $18 million federal highway project is slated to get underway in 2016 and take about two years to complete. Financing will come from an 80-20 federal and state split.

Highlights of the plan include relocating the southbound off-ramp, moving it north to provide a longer exit off the highway. The ramp will lead motorists to an intersection at Rt. 848 and Oliver Road.

The bridge over Interstate 81 on Rt. 848 will be widened one full lane, allowing for a turning lane to facilitate a better flow of traffic through the area.

Kevin Atkins of PennDOT said the design will accommodate the turning radius of current vehicles, including tractor trailers which frequently stop at the truck stop located at the exit.

The bridge work will take the longest to complete, according to officials present at the open house. But, they said, the bridge is not expected to be closed.

Instead, designers expect to close one lane at a time, with temporary traffic signals put in place.

Access to local businesses located in the area will not be closed off during construction.

Also on the plans was the construction of a temporary access on Rt. 848 to the Flying J truck stop. Several business owners, as well as a representative from Lackawanna College, noted that they would like that temporary drive to remain in place after construction was completed.

The northbound exit will be straightened; and the short, north entry onto the highway will be lengthened to allow easier merging of traffic.
Drainage problems in the area; as well as the addition of a new culvert are also included in the project plans.