LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- The PennDOT office that overseas highways in the northeastern part of the state started taking steps Wednesday to try to prevent drivers from going the wrong way on interstates and other highways.
This is the same district where several wrong-way crashes have occurred since last fall and most of them, unfortunately, were deadly.
Crews started on exit ramps along the Casey Highway by adding wrong way signs, reflective posts and more in an effort to warn would-be wrong-way drivers.
You never should end up driving the wrong way, but if you do, new wrong way signs are staring back at you on exit ramps along the Casey Highway.
"I wasn’t going the wrong way, so I didn’t notice them, but I think if I was going the wrong way I'd definitely notice them," said Alex Calzola of Carbondale.
PennDOT is in the process of having these and other signs placed at roughly 40 interchanges along the Casey Highway and Interstates 80, 81 and 84.
The federal money for the project was recently approved around the same time our area experienced a rash of wrong-way crashes, some deadly.
"Obviously, it’s coming at an opportune, unfortunate time right now with the number of motorists we’ve had going the wrong way, number of crashes and fatalities we’ve had," said PennDOT spokesman James May.
One of the more noticeable changes being made to the wrong way signs is that they're being lowered from several feet overhead to about 5 to 6 feet high so that impaired drivers can see the signs much more easily.
"I think that is a really awesome thing because there has been so many traffic related deaths lately," said Calzola.
PennDOT expects the nearly $800,000 project to wrap up in the next several months and even paint big, white arrows on the roadway in the right direction -- one more way to right a wrong-way driver headed for potential disaster.
"We’re doing whatever we can, trying to take a proactive approach to try to ensure we make it as obvious as we can for the motorist if they’re going the wrong way if that is the case," said May.
PennDOT reversed its thinking recently to lower the height of the wrong way signs after fears the signs would be too low they could be blocked by parked vehicles.
But at 5 or 6 feet, drunk drivers who tend to have tunnel vision might have a better chance of seeing them and prevent a deadly crash.