AVOCA — Berne Milarck had difficulty finding her way into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport once the new PennDOT roundabout was opened.
So the Archbald resident came up with an idea.
“I just thought if they painted airplanes on the ground to direct traffic, it would make it easier and safer,” Milarck said. “It was crazy. I never knew which way to go. So I thought if they painted airplanes on the road, you would just follow the airplanes. It’s something so simple and here I am getting all this notoriety.”
James May, spokesman for PennDOT, said when his office received the idea from Milarck, they put it on the shelf until the roundabout construction was completed.
“Once we got the roundabout done, we went out and looked at the situation and decided we would do it,” May said.
On Friday, a contractor for PennDOT began painting a series of 11 airplanes on the roundabouts at the airport. May said the 11 painted airplanes will help lead motorists from Interstate 81 to the airport.
“The contractor set up a series of cones, and the work was done as a moving operation with minimal impact to traffic,” May said. “But motorists were asked to use extreme caution when going through the work zones.”
Milarck said she traveled to the airport a couple times, and found it very difficult to maneuver the roundabout traffic pattern.
“Especially with all those big trucks coming in off of Interstate 81,” she said.
Since the roundabout was completed, complaints about the new system have decreased significantly, May said. He said when the work was being done, PennDOT did get a lot of complaints.
“Now that the work is done, we get much fewer complaints than initially,” May said. “Any time you drive through an active work zone, with signs up all around and vehicles and a lot of workers, it’s difficult to negotiate. The finished project is much safer for the public.”
May said the airplanes are designed to allow snow plows to plow over the surface without damaging them.
Milarck said she feels honored to have had her idea implemented by PennDOT and said her grandchildren are sharing pictures of their grandmother’s idea.
“I asked my daughter what will my legacy be,” she said. ” I guess this will be it.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.