WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — Work to improve safety, reduce congestion and increase mobility on I-81 in Washington County near Hagerstown has begun.

But construction has been slow to get underway and completing the job will likely take years.

The first phase begins this week and will widen ramps at Maugans Avenue north of Hagerstown near exit nine, raising new traffic signals and improving lighting and signage. The road shoulders will be re-patched and storm drainage is being improved.

Weather-permitting, drivers can expect to see crews during the day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and overnight from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“This is a major trucking district and we have so many accidents on the east coast, maybe more than any other highway,” Anthony, a motorist from Hagerstown, said. “It would be nice if they would make it three lanes. It would be much more safer.”

Drivers should be alert for electronic signs, cones and barrels during construction.