The Focus 81 Committee hosted an anniversary event celebrating ten years of service to Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Focus 81 Committee, formed by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, began addressing safety and congestion issues on Interstate 81 between Waverly in Lackawanna County and Nanticoke in Luzerne County in 2003.
Jeffrey Box, President and CEO of the NEPA Alliance welcomed attendees to the celebration and outlined how the NEPA Alliance has been instrumental in coordinating efforts for the committee over the past 10 years. Thomas E. Lawson, P.E., P.L.S., Executive Vice President of Borton-Lawson Engineering and Architecture and chair of the Focus 81 Committee, then discussed the key accomplishments of the committee during the past decade.
Over the 10-year period the Focus 81 Committee has achieved many initiatives to improve safety and address congestion in the corridor. Focus 81:
- Secured nearly $10 million for engineering work for expansion of I-81 in Davis Street/Central Scranton Expressway segment and the exits at Drinker Street and Blackman Street.
- Assisted in securing an additional $1 million for the completion of an expanded study of the corridor to further identify initiatives to improve safety, reduce congestion and address long-term expansion alternatives.
- Launched the Focus 81 website (www.focus81.com) in April 2004 to provide information regarding this corridor of I-81, including committee efforts, driver alerts, scheduled roadwork, maps, etc. An updated and redesigned website was unveiled at the celebration.
- Worked to designate two segments of the targeted I-81 corridor as “Highway Safety Corridors.” The areas were selected as high-crash, high-speed areas. Fines are doubled throughout these safety corridors and the goal is to improve safety by reducing crashes and fatalities.
- Urged PennDOT, through coordination with the State Police, to create eleven (11) new sites to be used as traffic enforcement pull-over areas/inspection sites or radar observation posts along the I-81 corridor.
- Conducted a number of public safety events over the past ten years including tire safety, incident management and truck safety events.
At the celebration, the Focus 81 Committee displayed the new website, www.focus81.com and unveiled television and radio commercials to promote the redesign of the website and remind drivers of the valuable web resource. The site provides quick links for traffic and road conditions and twitter alerts for updated traffic problems. Current and planned construction projects are listed and the road conditions link allows users to personalize their map to zoom in on the area of their commute. State Representative Michael Carroll, Luzerne County Councilman Rick Williams, Lackawanna County Director of Planning and Economic Development George Kelly and PennDOT District 4-0 Assistant District Engineer for Design, Debbie Noone all addressed the value of the Focus 81 Committee’s work and praised their efforts to improve driving conditions on the interstate.