Poconos Coal

PennDOT cracking down on 'Graffiti Highway' trespassing

Route 61 in Centralia closed about 20 years ago

CENTRALIA, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is cracking down on trespassers who continue to walk on a stretch of highway that's been closed to vehicles because of an underground coal fire.

PennDOT said it is concerned that people still walk on the macabre stretch of Route 61 in Centralia, Columbia County. The highway was closed to cars about 20 years ago. It's been dubbed "Graffiti Highway" because curiosity seekers paint messages and figures on it.

A $42 million federal relocation program moved more than 1,000 people out of Centralia by the late 1980s because of the fire that's burned underground since 1962. Only a few stragglers who sued for the right to remain still live there.

State police cited eight all-terrain vehicle riders and have warned 30 other trespassers to stay away in recent weeks.

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