The Pennsylvania DOT Public-Private Transportation Projects (P3) Board recently approved a proposed P3 project to reconstruct a 4.5-mile section of I-81 near the city of Wilkes-Barre.
According to PennDOT, the P3 Board originally approved the interstate construction project in late 2018 as a bundling of 15 bridge replacements along I-80 and I-81 in Luzerne County. The PennDOT P3 Office reassessed the needs of the corridor and developed a proposal which included eight of the original 15 bridges while also addressing the needs of the corridor as a whole.
Work on the highway construction project includes widening the interstate to three lanes in both directions, realigning 2.5 miles of I-81 southbound, and replacing eight bridges. The project also focuses on safety and mobility improvements, which include eliminating a left-hand exit on I-81 northbound and addressing a substandard weave distance between S.R. 0029 and S.R. 0309 on I-81 northbound.
"There's no denying that I-81 in Luzerne County is one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the state," PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a statement. "The P3 approach will allow PennDOT greater flexibility in making these critical improvements to our transportation network."
According to PennDOT, an increase in demand by road users coupled with an increase in the age of the infrastructure has made it challenging for the agency to stay ahead of the needs of the traveling public. Delivering this reconstructed corridor through P3 delivery is expected to allow PennDOT to address these issues and needs in a faster timeframe than traditional delivery.