Project To Widens Parts Of I-81 Underway

It will begin in WV and end in Md.


Hagerstown, Md (KM)  It’s underway. Work to widen Interstate 81 from Route 11 in West Virginia to Lappans Road (Rts. 63 & 68) in Williamsport, Maryland. “It’s taking it from a four-lane highway to a six-lane highway,” says Jim Ports, Maryland’s Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

He says widening this stretch of I-81 serves two purposes. “One, obviously,  is safety. And the second reason is there’s a lot of truck traffic throughout that corridor,” says Ports. “It’s heavy as far as commerce is concerned up and down the east coast.”

Because the project extends into West Virginia, Ports says Maryland worked out a unique arrangement with its neighbor. “We’re going to have our contractor perform the work, and they reimburse us for their portion. It’s approximately $40-million dollars for their portion of it,” he says

Ports says Maryland was ready to go with this project, but West Virginia wasn’t and so this arrangement was negotiated between the two states. He says this project is “equally important to them {West Virginia}.”

This widening project is expected to be completed by 2020.

In addition, Ports says Maryland is working to get another widening project on I-81 up and running. It would involve expanding the highway from four to six lanes between Lappans Road and Interstate 70. He says it will need some outside funding. “First of all, we need to see if the feds will agree. That’s the key component. So we’re going to need Congressional support on this project so see if we can get the funding on that. At that point, after the design work is done, we’ll be able to identify when that construction will begin and how long that will take.”

He says the Governor has already put aside $5-million for design and engineering work on that widening. The Maryland Department of Transportation has submitted an application for a  FASTLANE (Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies) grant to pay for this project.

By Kevin McManus