Is It Safe for Commuter Students to Travel on I-80?

An overlook of I-80. (Photo credit: PennDOT).

Aliyah Williams
Copy Editor

A devastating accident on Route 33 on March 1 has left three dead and is causing many ESU commuter students to be concerned about the safety of the roadways.

According to a Pennsylvania State Police report, the accident occurred after a tractor-trailer traveling south on Route 33 struck the middle guiderail and entered into the opposite lane, striking four other vehicles. Two individuals were declared to be dead on the scene, and another
was taken to the hospital to be treated, where they were later pronounced dead.

“My deepest sympathy is with the families and loved ones who have been impacted by the tragedy that occurred earlier this month on Route 33,” said Pennsylvania Senator Rosemary Brown. “Unfortunately, this is not the first death that has occurred on this stretch of roadway.”

The accident has left many commuter students shaken and concerned with road safety.

“As a commuter student, I know that safety should be important while driving. There are a lot of accidents around here, and I feel as if some can be prevented, so being cautious while driving is very important to me,” said Emmanuel McIntyre, a sophomore communications student.

After the events of the accident, Pennsylvania Senator Rosemary Brown addressed the need for safety improvement along the roadside.

“A concrete median improvement is scheduled for this section of road,” said Senator Brown. “Additionally, we need to look at this roadway as a whole to identify the highest risk sections to prevent further tragedies.”

The accident is not the only event troubling ESU commuters. Construction on I-80 has caused traffic and disturbances for students who are trying to get to their classes on time.

Beginning in 2022, the construction project will include 3.5 miles of full roadway reconstruction, widening and interchange configuration upon its completion in 2026, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

The construction was a result of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which serves to improve the roads and bridges throughout the country. I-80 is a popular roadway for shipments, local traffic, regional traffic and commuter traffic. According to PennDOT, the
highway was originally constructed in the 1960s and no longer fulfills safety and design criteria.

Some of the scheduled construction is occurring near ESU, interfering with the commute time for commuter students, faculty and staff.

“The construction also gets in the way of my commuting,” said McIntyre. “I’m late to work all the time and there is just so much of it going on. I feel like it may need to be done, but I don’t know if all of it needs to be going on at the same time.”

Being safe while driving is a prevalent issue for many ESU students, especially commuters, and the completion of the construction and road upgrades will benefit many in the future.

“I ask all students to always remain vigilant while driving – use caution, obey speed limits and pay full attention to the roads,” said Brown.

For more information regarding the details of the accident, check the Pennsylvania State Police website. To find more details about the projected timeline for the I-80 construction, visit the I-80 construction project website at:

Email Aliyah at: