Cumberland County calls for I-81 widening project in Carlisle

Local

After 4 recent crashes on I-81 in Cumberland County, Commissioners are saying enough is enough, releasing a proposal to fix the problem. However, PennDOT says it is not that simple, and these issues are wide-reaching and expensive.

“People are dying. People are dying due to the volume of the traffic,” said Commissioner Vince DiFilippo.

County Commissioners say that’s why they recently released a proposed solution, for the safety and congestion issues on I-81 between the exits for Allen Road and Middlesex.

 “It’s really time for the federal government to stop kicking this can down the road because the can, frankly is stuck in traffic,” said Commissioner Jim Hertzler.

 “We need help from the state and probably the federal government because it is an expensive proposition,” said DiFilippo.

The Commissioners are hoping to widen I-81, allowing for more truck traffic to pass through. PennDOT says it’s too tall an order. Estimating costs to be $2 billion. They say the funding just isn’t there. 

“It’s unrealistic when we’ve got so many other roads and bridges and construction projects that are going by the way side as well simply because there’s not funding,” said Fritzi Schreffler, PennDOT Spokesperson.

According to the Department Headquarters Bureau of Patrol, there have been 27 crashes on that stretch to date, 6 from speeding, and 8 total for careless passing and tailgating.

PennDOT says a lot of the issues my stem from something more than just highway design.

“A lot of the crashes are a result of speeding even though the speed was dropped in that area. State Police are still recording high speeds in that area,” said Schreffler.

Schreffler says drivers need to take safety into their own hands, but commissioners want short term solutions. 

 “So it would be a matter of talking to them or them contacting us and letting us know what do you think a short term solution is because there really unfortunately aren’t any short term solution,” said Schreffler.

Commissioners say they hope to continue to this discussion and look for short-term solutions. PennDOT and State Police are looking into gathering more statistics on the problems. 

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