"We're directing the contractor to remove and replace them. It's our right in the contract," Penny said.
Not all of the affected slabs are contiguous, he said.
"It's not unusual for a few slabs to develop cracks, but more than 80 is a concern," Penny said. "It's also a kind of cracking we're not familiar with. They're crescent-shaped."
Neither Penny nor officials with the Angelo Iafrate Construction Co. of Warren, Mich., the contractor who did the work, could explain the cracks, Penny said.
Penny and Robert Adcock, executive vice president of Angelo Iafrate Construction, said they contacted the American Concrete Paving Association to look into the cause once the affected slabs are pulled up. In addition, Adcock said his company is hiring an independent consultant.
Adcock said state inspectors checked and approved all of the work as it was being done.
If the fault is found to be in the design of the project, it will be the state's responsibility to pay for the work, Penny said. If it's the contractor's fault, the company will pay.
Penny said the cost of replacing the slabs has yet to be determined.
Angelo Iafrate Construction's contract also called for replacing the decks on three bridges over the interstate - on Mainsville Road, Pine Stump Road and Pa. 696.
Work began on replacing the surface of the southbound lane in 2001. The northbound lane repaving was completed in 2002. The contract called for all of the work, including the bridges, to be done by the end of 2002, Penny said. Iafrate finished the last bridge at the end of May, he said.
Penny said the state wants $222,000 in penalties from Angelo Iafrate Construction because of the runover.
"They'll probably file a claim saying we should have granted them an extension," he said.
Adcock said his company is appealing the assessment.
Penny said PennDOT officials hoped to begin the work "as soon as possible after the Fourth of July."
Adcock said Tuesday his company will do the repairs, but had no starting date.
"I have no crews lined up for it," he said. "It will be sometime this year."
Whenever it begins, traffic will be reduced to a single lane for about six weeks during construction, which will continue 24 hours a day, Penny said.
The section of I-81 was built in the mid-1960s, Penny said. He said the state used concrete instead of blacktop because it could better handle heavy truck traffic.