SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Interstate 81 is so important to our economy, yet so many crashes happen along it.

What’s being done to make this a better, safer highway? Transportation experts from around the country gathered over the past two days at Shippensburg University to discuss changes.

According to PennDOT transportation planning manager Adam Grimes, more than $40 million is being poured into I-81 over the next few years. The I-81/I-83 Northbound Merge Lane Project in Dauphin County is an estimated $13 million and the Merge Lane Project along I-81 Southbound and Route 581 Westbound will cost an estimated $32 million.

Kevin Cole, executive director of the I-81 Corridor Coalition, said the improvements are important because I-81 has a huge economic impact on the entire country.

“Ten percent of the entire U.S. economy passes through Harrisburg and we estimate something in excess of 12 percent of the entire U.S. economy travels on Interstate 81 at some point,” Cole said.

Cole says I-81 also impacts the environment and driver safety. He says there is still a lot of work to be done.