Construction to cut rock alongside the northbound lanes of Route 309 from Mountain Top to Wilkes-Barre is expected to be complete by the end of September. The project’s finish will come despite the fact that the underground dirt seam found is much deeper than guessed and will cost more than anticipated to fill.
Ed Goy, PennDot project manager, spoke before a dozen community members, engineers, and police from Fairview and Wright townships at a public meeting last week, assuring them that the construction, which has gone on for over a year, is almost complete.
The purpose of the project is to push back the mountain to improve drainage, as well as to create a 20-foot buffer for falling rocks, which has been a long problem in this area. Several delays plagued the project, including this spring when crews drilled into the rock and exposed an earth seam, a cave of dirt found within the rock on the mountain. If left alone, the seam could erode causing the mountain to crumble.
To fix the seam, PennDot has been using drills to fill in the mountain with a concrete cap. At the July 16 meeting, Goy told the group that the seam has been found to be much deeper than originally thought.
He explained that his crew assumed the seam went down at an angle, about 12 to 14 feet. However, he said, the seam instead goes straight down into the earth for 60 feet. “It was twice as big as what we thought,” he remarked.
Since the seam is bigger than guessed, it will cost $2 million to fill it entirely, Goy said. PennDot has only $1 million left to spend on the remainder of the $7 million project, he said, so the seam is not going to be completely filled with concrete.
Crews rather are filling the gap in the earth with dirt, enough to stabilize it. PennDot may chose to return and fill the entire seam later, Goy added, but with the dirt fill, should not need to.
“It will be good forever,” Goy assured this reporter.
Recent rain has delayed the construction by a few weeks, Goy said at the meeting, but it is expected to be complete in two and half months. Brad Hontz, an engineer from Latona Construction, the project’s general