Airport Interchange Project on I-81

Posted on Thursday October 10, 2013

Airport-Interchange-Groundbreaking4Some call this project massive. District 4 will take on a large reconstruction project of the Avoca and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport Exits in Luzerne County. The Airport project is very unique to District 4. Not only is it one of the largest projects in the district but it is the most expensive, bid at $41.9 million. It is also the only capacity adding project this year. The project is set to begin in June of 2013 and will include widening of Interstate 81, rehabilitation of 2 existing bridges, replacement of an existing pedestrian bridge, new exit and entrance ramps, 3 new roundabouts, construction of 2 new bridges, and the construction of a new roadway. Interstate 81 North and South near Exits 178B (Avoca) and 178A (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport) will be widened including the bridges over Lidy Road, State Route 315 (Airport Road), and Plane Street. Also the pedestrian bridge that is over Interstate 81, just north of the airport exit will be replaced.

The creation of new exit ramps will eliminate the southbound 178A exit and the northbound 178B exit, combining the Avoca Exit and Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport Exit into one exit. There will also be a new entrance ramp to Interstate 81 South and 2 new entrance ramps to Interstate 81 North. Also three roundabouts will be created. Two major benefits of roundabouts are safety and capacity. With a roundabout there are fewer conflict points, slower speeds, and easier decision making. Not only does a roundabout provide safety for motorists but they provide safety to pedestrians too. Cross walks near roundabouts only cross one-way moving traffic, making it easier for pedestrians to see and be seen. Capacity of roundabouts also increases. They carry 30% more traffic and cause little delay. This is because the traffic continually flows through a roundabout.

Finally there will be construction of a new roadway about 4,906 linear feet in length to connect Commerce Road (Grimes Industrial Park) to the Terminal Road roundabout. The new roadway will travel over the PA Turnpike where a new PA beam bridge will be constructed. The road will then continue over Lidy Creek where a new precast conspan arch culvert bridge will be constructed. Continuing under the MALSR (Medium-intensity Approach Lighting System with Runway Alignment Indicator) the road will connect into Navy Way near the Holiday Inn and continue on to the Terminal Road roundabout. The reconstruction of the Avoca exits will minimize traffic, especially trucks, traveling through Dupont, will increase safety, and promote commerce. In order for trucks to reach the Grimes Industrial Park they currently must use Exit 175 (Dupont/ Pittston) forcing them to travel through the already high traffic of the town and residential areas. By creating the new Navy Way Road, trucks will be able to take the Avoca/ Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport Exit to reach Commerce Road with minimal traffic congestion. Also with the reconstruction of the exit, PennDOT hopes to increase safety exiting and entering I-81. The reconstruction will also help both the airport and Grimes to promote commerce. The contract for this $41.9 million dollar project was awarded to Pennsy Supply on May 21, 2013. Pennsy Supply is a Pennsylvania based company out of Annville. PennDOT has committed to completing construction with as minimal traffic impacts as possible with an anticipated completion of November 2015.