PennDOT: I-81 now open in all directions - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County

PennDOT: I-81 now open in all directions

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PennDOT has reopened an 11-mile stretch of Interstate 81 that has been closed since a tanker fire last week.

The process of reopening the interstate began at 3:45 p.m., starting with the I-81 South ramp to Cameron Street in Harrisburg.

State police escorted PennDOT crews as they removed barrels and barricades to open the following routes, in order:

- I-81 South ramp to Cameron Street, including I-81 South back to I-83 North,

- I-81 North lanes between U.S. Route 322 and U.S. Route 11,

- Route 581 West at I-81 North,

- I-81 North at Route 581 East,

- I-81 South at I-83.

The reopening was expected to be completed by 10 p.m., but finished just before 8:00. The only portion of the roadway that will remain closed is the ramp from I-81 North to Route 22/322 West.

In addition, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will restore tolls for trips between the Harrisburg East Interchange and the Carlisle Interchange starting at midnight. The tolls had been waived to allow the Turnpike to be used as a detour.

Interstate 81 was closed Thursday morning between Route 581 in Cumberland County and Interstate 83 in Dauphin County after a fuel tanker overturned and caught fire on the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322 near Harrisburg.

Two spans of the eastbound Route 22 bridge above the ramp were damaged by the fire and were in danger of collapsing onto the interstate. The damaged spans were removed over the weekend and on Monday morning.

In addition, wooden shielding was being placed under the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322, where the tanker overturned and caught fire.

The deck needs to be replaced, but officials said it is not necessary to demolish the bridge before reopening I-81 to traffic.

The demolition will take place later and the shielding will protect I-81 traffic from falling debris, according to PennDOT. Officials have said repairs to the bridge could take 2-3 months.

PennDOT spokesperson Greg Penny said the estimated total cost of the repairs so far is approximately $10 million, but that amount will continue to grow as future repairs are made.

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