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Construction woes continue on Route 61

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 16 2013 09:33:35 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2013 10:46:06 AM CDT

Big orange construction cones have become a permanent fixture along Route 61 in Ontelaunee Township. PennDOT crews started work on the road almost two years ago.

ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. -

Big orange construction cones have become a permanent fixture along Route 61 in Ontelaunee Township. PennDOT crews started work on the road almost two years ago. The three mile construction zone has become a nuisance for drivers.

"It is just a disaster. It is just a disaster. Takes you forever to get anywhere so you just avoid going," said Janice Wessner, of Schuylkill County.

"Oh it is terrible. I do not like it," said Pauline Minnich, of Leesport.

Commuters we spoke with who drive Route 61 every day said it has doubled their drive time.

"A good day was about a 20-minute drive. Today, a good day is about a 45-minute drive," said Bill Stanton, of Tilden Township.

And it has even affected businesses.

"You cannot come in here. You know, a lot of equipment for them. Plus a lot of cars of customers cannot come in, and I have had to close a lot of times," said Mohamad Sallou, owner, Leesport Diner.

PennDOT said the $21 million project is meant to relieve congestion along Route 61. Crews are widening the road in some areas, replacing the drainage, upgrading traffic signals, doing minor shoulder work and bridge repair and replacing the medians.

Unfortunately, PennDOT said the project is nowhere near complete. They expect it to last another two years until November 2015. And the drivers we spoke with were not too happy about that.

"Oh my God. Crazy. They developed without taking into consideration that maybe they should have widened the road or did all this prior to all the development that occurred over the past 10 or 15 years," said Stanton.

Crews did finish one of the ramps from 222 South to 61 North last week, but for now, the presence of orange cones will continue.