What’s being done to make I-81 safer?

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – The eight-mile stretch of Interstate 81 around Carlisle has seen 268 significant crashes over the last five years.

Ten people have died, including three who were involved in an accident Wednesday afternoon at the College Street exit.

PennDOT has looked into widening I-81 to three lanes and building longer ramps in the area, but a spokesman says the money just isn’t there.

“Ten years ago, we were looking at a billion and a half dollars to do it,” PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said. “The price tag is much higher now.”

A simpler fix would be cable median barriers to prevent crossover crashes. The barriers have been installed on I-81 in other places, but they’re not ideal near Carlisle where the median isn’t flat.

“If you put barrier there, the concern is that somebody hitting that barrier could be redirected back into traffic and cause a crash,” Penny said.

PennDOT does an annual assessment of traffic and crashes. We’re told they will again look into cable median barriers in that area, where one in three vehicles is a tractor-trailer.

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