For four years they've watched traffic on Interstate 81 build up, vehicle by vehicle, in the same way that snow storms add to the weight of a mountainside glacier - flake by frozen flake. Now elected officials have decided that unless they want to be buried in an avalanche of traffic, they'd better begin the push to upgrade I-81. Based on the numbers we've seen, they don't have much choice.
Four years ago a group called QUADCO, a group created by economic development officials from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, found that 50,000 vehicles a day (including 12,500 trucks) passed through the region on I-81 every day.
Today that figure stands at 64,000 vehicles, including 16,000 trucks, and in June QUADCO officials announced that it would expand its study of I-81 to include the area from Harrisburg, Pa. to Harrisonburg, Va. More important, QUADCO voted to make I-81 road improvements its No. 1 priority.