Committee secured nearly $10 million for engineering work for expansion of I-81 in Davis Street/Central Scranton Expressway segment. A portion of this funding has been redirected to expanding the exits at Drinker Street and Blackman Street. Approval from FHWA was received in October 2011. PennDOT has added the projects to the 2013-2016 TIP and the projects are currently moving forward.
The Focus 81 website (www.focus81.com) was launched in April 2004 to keep the public informed on efforts of the group and to provide information regarding this corridor of I-81. Individuals can access information regarding committee efforts, driver alerts, scheduled roadwork, maps, etc. A revamp of the website is currently underway. Condron & Company has been engaged to redesign the website and a rollout is expected in the next few months.
The Focus 81 Committee worked to have two segments of the targeted I-81 corridor designated as “Highway Safety Corridors”. The first designated area consists of a 5 ½ mile segment, from mile markers 184 to 178. The second designated area consists of a 12.6-mile stretch from mile markers 173.8 to 161.2. The areas were selected because they are high-crash, high-speed areas. Fines are doubled throughout these safety corridors and the goal is to improve safety by reducing crashes and fatalities.
PennDOT, through coordination with the State Police created eleven (11) new sites to be used as traffic enforcement pull-over areas/inspection sites or radar observation posts along the I-81 corridor in Lackawanna & Luzerne Counties. This initiative originated through discussions at Focus 81 meetings.
The Focus 81 Committee worked with Kane is Able, Inc. to have the Focus 81 logo and message placed on a Kane Is Able, Inc. tractor-trailer that traverses this corridor of I-81 for use as a moving billboard.
The Focus 81 Committee assisted in securing an additional $1 million for the completion of an expanded study of the targeted I-81 corridor to further identify initiatives to improve safety, reduce congestion and address long term expansion alternatives. Focus 81 worked with PennDOT and their contracted consultant, Pennoni Associates, to develop the scope of work. The I-81 Expanded Corridor study was completed in August 2007.
Through discussions at Focus 81 Committee meetings, suggestions had been made to the PA Turnpike Commission to add “EZ Pass” at the Keyser Avenue and Clarks Summit toll plazas. The PA Turnpike Commission on November 23, 2004 held a ceremony to announce the completed installation of “EZ Pass” at the Keyser Avenue and Clarks Summit toll plazas.
PennDOT, through the request and input of the Focus 81 Committee, created a report regarding emergency detour routes throughout the targeted I-81 corridor. The committee assessed the information and recommended a study be conducted to identify possible initiatives to reduce congestion along a priority section (Rt. 315 from Pittston to Wilkes-Barre) during emergency situations. Funding for this study has been secured and the project has commenced with anticipated completion in Spring 2010.
The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) proposed a joint venture with Focus 81 and its partners to develop an information brochure targeted to truck drivers which they could distribute when conducting inspections. A brochure was developed which outlines key information for this corridor and includes safety tips, a corridor map and other pertinent information.
The Focus 81 Committee undertook an aggressive advertising campaign utilizing radio, TV, billboards and special events to inform the public about the committee and its efforts to improve safety and reduce congestion throughout a targeted corridor of I-81. The advertising campaign continues on an annual basis during the Memorial Day Weekend.
A letter was developed addressing the need for increased enforcement by the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC). The letter states that the Focus 81 Committee supports greater enforcement efforts by the PUC directed to the Focus 81 service corridor on I-81. The PUC agreed and approved overtime for increased enforcement specific for the Focus 81 corridor.
Focus 81 partnered with PennDOT and Jack Williams Tire, Inc. to conduct Tire Safety Events, which helped to educate local drivers about proper tire safety and maintenance.
Focus 81 partnered with the PennDOT and the I-81 Corridor Coalition to conduct an incident management workshop for the region. This meeting brought together numerous agencies and emergency management officials to discuss best practice measures regarding incident management with special emphasis on the targeted Focus 81 corridor.
In August 2008, the Focus 81 Committee received an Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). This award recognizes transportation projects throughout the country for their innovation and impact on communities in small metropolitan and/or rural areas.
In July 2005, the Focus 81 committee received an Honorable Mention in the “Team Excellence” award category from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). This award honors examples of government and the community working together to improve transportation and the quality of life in a specific region.
Focus 81 Committee members were featured on the live WVIA TV “State of Pennsylvania” program in April 2004. The program discussed goals, accomplishments and future plans of the Focus 81 Committee along with efforts to expand the targeted I-81 corridor. In addition to informing the public of Committee actions, the program served as a public forum in which individuals could call and ask questions of the participants.
In April 2004, the Focus 81 Committee received the “Partnership in Progress” award from the Pennsylvania Partnership for Highway Quality (PPHQ). This award is presented annually by PPHQ to recognize a person, partner, business or organization that has demonstrated support and/or works to improve transportation interests in Pennsylvania.