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Series of mishaps leads to traffic backup on Interstate 81

Drivers were stuck in stalled traffic for hours in the northbound lanes.

PITTSTON, Pa. — PennDOT says a contractor was changing overhead signs on Interstate-81 but the signs were delayed getting on-site.

So the traffic headache lasted for hours with crews wrapping around 3:30 p.m.

Paula Denisco from West Pittston and Cynthia Liberski of Exeter were headed to Montage Mountain and got stuck in the mess.

They wished they'd had some warning before getting on the highway.

“People should know what they're doing on the highways, on the interstates. So, you are prepared to make a choice of where you want to get your exit. Because once you're in it, there's no way of getting out of it,” said LIberski.

There are two electronic signs on Rt. 315 in Pittston Township between the ramps for the turnpike and Interstate 81.

The turnpike commission owns those signs.

It says the signs would have been used to tell drivers about the backup on I-81 but it was not told about the traffic delays by PennDOT.

PennDOT's press office said it wasn't informed about the road work or traffic due to miscommunication.

“Well, isn't that typical that the right hand doesn't tell the left hand what they're doing,” said Denisco.

Regardless of the turnpike signs, the two women say the electronic signs on the interstate could have warned drivers.

“There was nothing on 81. To say, 'get off,'” laughed Denisco.

“Or at least expect delays,” added Liberski.

Still, others say dealing with traffic is part of what living in Pennsylvania is all about.

“I've dealt with it most of my life. I've lived in Philadelphia and dealt with traffic on the Schuylkill during the heaviest part of construction so,” said Tom Kulak from Mountain Top.

The turnpike commission strongly advises people to download the PA 511 app which shows traffic conditions throughout the state.

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