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Outbound Lanes Of McDade Expressway Closed, Vehicle Restrictions On I-84

November 16, 2018
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Outbound Lanes Of McDade Expressway Closed, Vehicle Restrictions On I-84

SCRANTON — Jennifer Partyka’s commute from Geisinger Community Medical Center to her Glenburn Twp. home usually takes 22 minutes, but on Thursday, five hours on the road only got her about halfway there. She left work at about 3:40 p.m. to find the Hill Section of the city already a snowy mess. The marathon started shortly thereafter. She spent 2½ hours stationary on the bridge above Keyser Avenue. She advanced another hundred yards in the 90 minutes after that. “It really didn’t get terrible till I got on the expressway,” she said of the McDade Expressway. “Once I got on here, it went from bad to worse.” Wednesday’s snowfall dumped about nine inches of snow on the Scranton area by about 9 p.m. and accumulations ranged from six inches to a foot in other parts of the county, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Carl Erickson said. The storm left motorists stranded and kept first responders busy throughout Lackawanna County, said county Emergency Services Director David Hahn. The cause of Partyka and hundreds of other drivers’ storm-stymied odyssey on the McDade Expressway stemmed from several stuck vehicles in “the Notch,” the bottleneck leading from Scranton to South Abington Twp., Pennsylvania Department of Transportation James May said. The road there was often limited to one lane throughout the evening, May said. The backup prompted Scranton police to close the expressway at the Providence Road exit. A flare flickered in the snow there as two officers directed motorists at about 7 p.m. Sleet clicked off their vehicles as a police dog inside one of the running cruisers offered a sharp bark. Not a quarter of a mile away, the tail end of the backlog idled motionless. The wait drew frustration from motorists. Some took to social media to air their frustrations. Partyka said she saw nary a plow or salt truck during her hours-long trek. Co-workers reported the same during their commutes on other roads, she said. She eventually arrived home safely at about 9 p.m. “I don’t mean to pick on PennDOT, I just don’t know why so many people are in peril right now when we knew this was coming,” Partyka said. “This wasn’t a surprise.” But May said crews did work to pretreat the road with brine ahead of the storm and crews strategically positioned themselves in trucks to start salting and plowing roads as the first flakes fell Thursday. He attributed the gridlock to the pace of the snowfall, which happened at a rate as fast as two inches an hour at one point, and the timing of the storm’s arrival near rush hour, when most people are leaving for work and a higher volume of cars are on the road. While the brine helps to prevent ice and snow buildup, it isn’t a cure all, May said. When snow is falling as fast as it was Thursday, the road is often covered again as soon as a plow makes a pass, he said. Traffic backlogs prevented crews from getting to trouble areas. “Pardon the pun, but it’s a snowball effect,” May said. Other roads, including Interstate 81 in both lanes, saw severe traffic and left some motorists stranded, Hahn said. County officials were working to equip state police with snowmobiles to check on anyone still on the roads if necessary, Hahn said. A wintry mix of sleet and rain is expected to continue to fall into this morning before turning to snow for a few hours before stopping at about 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., when the storm is expected to clear the area, Erickson said. By the time that happens, the front could have dumped a full foot of snow on the Scranton area, he said. A high of about 40 degrees will see some of the snowfall melt through the day, but drivers should be wary of refreezing when temperatures fall again. It appears as though no more storms will hit the area for at least the next week, he added. County offices and court system offices will open today at 11 a.m., when employees will report to work, county spokesman Joseph D’Arienzo said. County of Lackawann Transot System buses will run all fixed route buses on snow routes today. All non-essential shared ride trips are canceled, per COLTS policy. Contact the writer: cover@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5363; @ClaytonOver on Twitter

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