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PennDOT making substantial changes coming to I-79 construction zone

Changes coming to I-79 construction zone
Changes coming to I-79 construction zone 02:58

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - It's another morning rush hour with only a single lane on a stretch of I-79, but will it be open later today? 

They're hoping so, but there are a lot of moving parts and they can't paint the lines in the rain or in colder temperatures. 

This is no small change that PennDOT is making in the I-79 construction zone. 

"[We're] implementing a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit through the whole work zone," said PennDOT District 11 Assistant Executive Jason Zang. 

That should help with the speed issue, which they believe contributed to the four accidents on Sunday and Monday. 

The other issue is getting drivers' attention to what is ahead so Zang said they've come up with an orchard of signs, including those that show people they can go straight or they can go on the express lane. 

"To me, the most effective thing that we're doing, is we're actually going to pull the decision point way back," Zang explained. 

They're pulling it back nearly a half mile before the actual split barrier. 

"It's really going to get people's attention in combination with the signage," he said. "We're going to have arrows on the lanes that tell people to stay in their lane." 

However, in the name of safety, there won't be anything physical for people to hit for about 2,000 feet, according to Zang. 

"They can still physically change lanes if they have to if they panic, but it's really going to send the message to stay in the lane," he explained. 

Channelizers will start 100 feet before the actual barrier and the amount of work are pushing back the return to the two southbound lanes. 

"Worst case scenario, sometime over the weekend, certainly by Monday morning rush hour," Zang said. 

They're also moving barriers that were blocking sight lines and putting raised pavement reflectors every 20 feet in the paint lines to light it up at night. 

The entrances to the express lanes have been widened out and it's a bit more comfortable now. 

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