Truckers prepare for long-term closure of Grantville rest area

Harrisburg

GRANTVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Love them or hate them, tractor-trailers are the lifeblood of Interstate 81, but in two weeks, there’s going to be a speed bump.

The Grantville rest area on both sides of 81 — right before the 79-mile marker — will close on Oct. 16 and won’t reopen until the summer of 2021.

“When we lose something, particularly like the Grantville rest area, both sides at the same time, it’s going to make it challenging for drivers to find those locations,” said Kevin Stewart, the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association.

PennDOT officials said the rest stop will get a complete makeover, including more spaces for trucks, but until it’s finished, it may be a rough ride for some.

“From midnight to 5 a.m., while there’s plenty of private truck stops around, what happens is even they exceed capacity during those nighttime hours,” Stewart said.

Truck driver Christian Phillips uses Grantville at least twice a week.

“I don’t think there’s enough places for trucks. As you can see, they’re lined up, and how many are going down the road?” he said

The law and his employer require Phillips to take breaks and log them on a computer. With Grantville offline, he’ll have to reboot. 

“Sometimes, you have to try to pull in somewhere, and hopefully nobody runs you off,” Phillips said.

PennDOT officials said smaller truck stops have been notified about the increased traffic, and they’ll work to make sure the transition is smooth.

Here’s hoping it will be. Close to 90% of Pennsylvania communities rely exclusively on truck drivers to transport their goods.

“One of every 17 Pennsylvanians who is employed is directly or indirectly in the trucking industry,” Stewart said.

“We’re just out here trying to live and work like everybody else,” Phillips said.

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