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UPDATE: Interstate I-81 Will Remain Closed for Several Days


Tanker Explosion Shuts Down Interstate 81 and Route 322 'Indefinitely'Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Press Release– A fiery tanker crash shortly after 6 a.m. on Thursday, May 9, on the ramp from northbound Interstate 81 to westbound Route 22/322 closed the bridges that carry Route 22 over I-81 and also both directions of I-81 that pass underneath those bridges. As of 6 p.m., this is where we stand 24 hours later, as of 6 a.m. on Friday, May 10:

• Westbound Route 22 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange is open. Access to northbound and southbound I-81 from westbound Route 22 is available. In other words, traffic leaving the Harrisburg area by way of westbound Route 22 has access to northbound and southbound I-81 and westbound Route 22/322 toward Dauphin and State College.

• The ramp from northbound Interstate 83 to southbound I-81 was reopened at around 4:45 p.m. yesterday to allow motorists headed to westbound Route 22/322 to continue to the I-81 Exit 67 interchange and take the ramp to westbound Route 22/322 toward Dauphin and State College.

• The ramp from northbound I-81 to eastbound Route 22 toward the City of Harrisburg at I-81 Exit 67 is open. This accommodates commuters and other motorists who can access northbound I-81 at Exit 61 (Route 944/Wertzville Road) and Exit 65 (Route 11/15) to continue across the George Wade Memorial Bridge to Exit 67 (Cameron Street).

• The interchanges at I-81 Exit 61 (Route 944/Wertzville Road) and I-81 Exit 65 (Route 11/15) are open to traffic. Northbound motorists can go only as far as Exit 67 for eastbound Route 22 into Harrisburg.

In the I-81 Exit 67 interchange, the following remain closed:

• Northbound and southbound I-81.

o For motorists traveling on southbound I-81 from outside the Harrisburg area, southbound I-81 is closed at Exit 70 in Dauphin County and motorists are then detoured by way of southbound Interstate 83 on the Capital Beltway to westbound Route 581 back to southbound I-81 in Cumberland County.

o For motorists approaching the Harrisburg area on northbound I-81, northbound I-81 is currently closed at Exit 59 in Cumberland County and motorists are then detoured by way of eastbound Route 581 on the Capital Beltway to northbound I-83 back to northbound I-81 in Dauphin County.

o An alternative for motorists around the I-81 closure between Exits 59 and 70 is the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76). Tolls will be waived between the Carlisle interchange (Exit 226) and the Harrisburg East interchange just south of Harrisburg (Exit 247).

• The ramp from southbound I-81 to eastbound Route 22 toward the City of Harrisburg.

• Eastbound Route 22 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange.

o This bridge has been seriously damaged, is no longer safe, and the spans over both northbound and southbound I-81 will be demolished and removed. Prep work started last evening and demolition should start today. This work is expected to take a few days to complete before it is safe to allow traffic underneath on I-81. The contractor hired for this assignment is working around-the-clock to remove the bridge to enable PennDOT to reopen I-81 as soon as possible.

o Plans are to build crossovers in the median of Route 22 and make the westbound roadway one lane in each direction. This work will take a few days to accomplish, especially if rain interferes with the placement of stone and asphalt for the crossovers. When this is accomplished, there will be one lane for eastbound Route 22 traffic through the interchange into Harrisburg and one lane for westbound traffic through the interchange heading toward Dauphin.

• The ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322.

This is the ramp where the tanker truck overturned and caught fire. The deck was destroyed and needs to be replaced. Plans are to remove the deck of the bridge span over I-81 over the next few days. It may also be necessary to remove the entire superstructure of the bridge (this includes the beams). Traffic will not be allowed on I-81 under this bridge until this is accomplished.

PennDOT has notified the departments of transportation in Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia as well as PennDOT engineering districts north of Harrisburg along the I-81 corridor to assist in alerting motorists to the situation on I-81 in the Harrisburg area. PennDOT has also notified Transcom–which has alerted port authorities, trucking companies, and northern states such as New York and Connecticut. The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) is also assisting in notifying their membership. The states of Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey are utilizing running message boards to alert drivers in their areas to the I-81 closure in the Harrisburg area.


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