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Project designed to upgrade roadway, increase safety at I-81/I-70 interchange

October 26, 2006

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced Wednesday a $2 million truck safety project that will help trucks travel more easily along the Interstate 81/Interstate 70 interchange in Washington County.

The I-81/I-70 interchange handles more than 55,000 vehicles per day, of which 34 percent are trucks, according to a state press release. Engineers estimate that by 2030 the average daily traffic will increase to 74,000 vehicles.

Ehrlich said in the release that improvements will reduce truck crashes, enhance safety for motorists and relieve traffic congestion.

The $2 million interchange reconstruction will upgrade four of eight ramps in the I-81/I-70 interchange. At three of the ramps, the project will widen the highway to provide longer merge lanes to allow for safer merging between trucks and other highway traffic. The fourth ramp will be reconfigured to allow trucks to travel the ramp more safely.

The project includes: construction of deceleration lanes and improved exit ramps from westbound I-70 to northbound I-81 and from eastbound I-70 to southbound I-81; construction of an acceleration lane and improved exit ramp for northbound I-81 to eastbound I-70; and changing the elevation of the ramp from southbound I-81 to eastbound I-70, which will help truck drivers maneuver the ramp.

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The contract will include upgrading shoulders to "full depth pavement" to handle traffic when needed as well as a storm water management facility to protect water quality.

The State Highway Administration will start construction in Spring 2008, according to the release. The project is expected to take one year to complete.

The project is a breakout project as part of a long-term, $500 million I-81 project, which extends more than 12 miles between the West Virginia and Pennsylvania state lines.

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