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I-81 Accident Causes Traffic Headaches, What you Need to Know Before Driving to Harrisburg Area

by on May 10, 2013 2:24 PM

A fiery accident involving an overturned tractor trailer loaded with diesel fuel is causing traffic headaches in the Harrisburg area. The big rig crashed at the Route 322/I-81 interchange Thursday morning -- and the aftereffects will be felt for the next several days.

The wreck happened on the ramp from northbound Interstate 81 to westbound Route 22/322. The resulting fire burned for hours. It forced safety officials to close the bridges that carry Route 22 over I-81 and also both directions of I-81 that pass underneath those bridges.

Drivers traveling from State College through the Harrisburg area should not have much of a problem according to PennDOT District 8 Community Relations Coordinator Greg Penny, but those looking to enter the city will be facing detours.

You can take one of two alternatives routes to enter the city of Harrisburg -- I-81 North to Progress Avenue at Exit 69 or I-81 South to Front Street at Exit 66.

“Those just driving through the area and continuing on are fine,” said Penny. When you get to the interchange where the crash occurred, they can still take the ramp on E. 322 as you get to 81.”

Motorists in the city, however, could experience some delays.

“All of the additional traffic volume going on alternate roads that are usually lightly traveled are now heavily traveled, bumper to bumper, so that’s been an adjustment for people.

Early next week, a lane is expected to be set up on the westbound bridge that will allow entrance into the city.

Setting up the lane, along with removing the eastbound 22 bridge, which was heavily damaged by the fire, are the two main priorities going forward. The exact completion time of this project is heavily dependent on the forecast cooperating.

“The big factor for us there is rain. So far, we have been pretty lucky there, said Penny.”

“We’re trying to get 81 open as soon as we can. We want to make sure it’s safe to put traffic on there before we do it.”

Click Here to check for the latest travel updates from PennDot.


Drew Balis is a Penn State graduate, freelance reporter and frequent contributor to
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