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I-99 finally opens after weather delay

Onward ho! A stretch of I-99 from Bald Eagle to Skytop opened yesterday afternoon after delays due to weather and finishing the completion of sign placement. The northbound lanes are now open all the way to Skytop and the southbound lanes are open from Port Matilda to Bald Eagle. The entire stretch of I-99 will open sometime in 2008. (The Daily Herald/ Kris Yaniello)

Commuters to State College might end up at work a little earlier this morning. A stretch of Interstate 99 opened yesterday afternoon to much anticipation, although the project has yet to reach total completion.
According to an AP report Tuesday morning, PennDOT District 2 opened all northbound lanes of I-99 to traffic. The southbound lanes from Port Matilda to Bald Eagle has also opened. PennDOT crews worked through the recent snow and ice this past weekend in order to get the lanes open to traffic, removing construction barrels and signs.
Commuters and long-haul truckers are whizzing over a newly opened 14-mile-section of Interstate 99 in Blair and Centre counties.
Traffic is moving over at least part of the extension after years of delay for environmental concerns and a few extra days due to winter weather. The opening was first scheduled Thursday but delayed until Monday by the winter storm.
According to a PennDOT press release, as motorists approach the Skytop area, the two northbound lanes will narrow into one lane, with traffic merging back onto current U.S. Route 322.
Southbound lanes in the Skytop area will remain closed to daily traffic but will continue to be used by construction vehicles. Route 322 along Skytop will remain open for local traffic and access to businesses.
Presently, motorists coming from the State College area looking to access the new stretch of I-99 must do so in Port Matilda. Regardless, the commute time will be shortened and if commuters choose to access the new stretch of I-99, it will undoubtedly eliminate traveling on Old Route 220, from Bald Eagle to Port Matilda, where traffic accidents have claimed many lives.
PennDOT has been building a more than $800 million dollar link between the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Bedford and Interstate 80 at Bellefonte for years.
Concerns about acid-producing rock unearthed just outside State College have caused delays. The state now hopes to finish the extension by the end of 2008, about a year behind schedule.
Information on the I-99 remediation can be found on the web at www.dot.state.pa.us. Click on More News & Media and choose I-99/Pyrite Information.