DUNMORE — A fatal crash that occurred on Interstate 81 south on Monday night has postponed an upcoming single-lane closure on I-81 north, and restricted southbound traffic to one lane Tuesday.
The single-lane closure on I-81 north between Exit 191B (Scranton Expressway) and Exit 194 (Clarks Summit) that was originally scheduled to be implemented on Thursday morning will now be postponed until Friday morning.
“The preliminary work to shift the lanes will now occur on Thursday night into Friday morning, and by early Friday morning, motorists should anticipate a single lane closure in this area until the end of the month,” said PennDOT spokesman James May.
A crew was scheduled to temporarily utilize a southbound lane of I-81 on Monday night to set up lights in preparation for the project. However, because I-81 south was closed for several hours, they had to move that work to Tuesday night.
There will be a single-lane closure on I-81 south between Exit 191A (Dickson City) and Exit 190 (Main Avenue). The right lane is scheduled to be closed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. while the Pennsylvania State Police conducts a reconstruction and investigation of Monday’s crash. There may be short periods of time in which traffic will need to be stopped in both lanes.
Significant delays are expected, especially during the morning rush hour.
Northbound road work
The work is part of an ongoing $35 million project to complete three deck replacements on bridges over Main Avenue, Olyphant Avenue and the Lackawanna River, as well as removing a large section of the rock cut wall just north of Exit 191B.
Major delays are expected as a result of the single-lane closure. May said that about 70,000 vehicles travel on that particular portion of I-81 daily.
PennDOT recommends motorists take I-476 (Northeast Extension toll road) between Pittston and Clarks Summit to avoid the delays. While other options, such as the Central Scranton Expressway are available, it is expected that these side roads also will become congested.
Luzerne County is no stranger to construction on I-81. A $42-million project at the airport exit at mile 178 includes widening bridges on the interstate; repairing existing bridges over Lidy Road, state Route 315 and Plane Street; replacing the pedestrian bridge just north of the Avoca exit, and constructing new exit and entrance ramps, three new roundabouts, two new bridges and nearly a mile of new roadway.
Monday night’s crash
Margo Bolanos, 58, of Mississauga, Ontario, died after the vehicle she was riding in struck an embankment on Monday night, state Police at Dunmore said.
Troopers said Vilko Raitmaier, 61, also of Mississauga, was operating the 2002 Pontiac Sunfire southbound in the right lane near the Dickson City exit just before 5:30 p.m. The car travelled into the left lane, nearly striking a vehicle traveling alongside.
Raitmaier then abruptly swerved to the right, troopers said, travelling off the roadway, onto the right shoulder and striking a stone embankment. The Pontiac then spun back onto the highway and came to rest in the southbound passing lane.
Raitmaier and a front-seat passenger, Nina Bolanos, 55, of Clovis, California, suffered moderate injuries, police said. Margo Bolanos, who was killed, was riding in the back seat.