Safety Implications Evaluated On Major Route 309 Project

 

A  broad  array  of  local  and  state  officials  met  last  week  to  assess  the  potential  effects  of  a  $5.2  million  construction

 project  to  remove  rock  and  falling  debris  from  the  northbound

 lanes  of  Route  309.  The  rock  removal  project  will  reduce  traffic

 to  one  lane  in  each  direction  in  the  southbound  lanes  only.

Arranged  and  conducted  by  PA  Senator  Lisa  Baker  and  her  Field  Representative

 Tom  Yonski,  the  conference  attracted  almost  50  local,

 county  and  state  personnel  to  the

 Fairview  Township  Municipal  Building  to  assess  the  safest  way  to  accomplish  the  rock  removal  project.  Plans

 call  for  prep  work  to  begin  this  month,  then  a  break  in  December,  commencing

 again  in  March  of  2014. Having  established  the  purpose  of  the

 meeting,  Sen.  Baker  turned  the  agenda  over  to  PennDOT  District  Traffic

 Engineer  Keith  Williams  who  advised  that  the  ink  is  still  damp  on

 the  construction  contract,  “The  contractor  will  be  Latona  Trucking.”  Williams

 added  that  the  Notice  to  Proceed  will  be  not  even  be  issued  until

 October  15th.

“The  history  of  this  project  goes  back

 10  years  when  the  crash  data  analysis  persistently  included  the  component

 of  falling  rock.  The  most  affected  area  is  the  downhill  – or  northbound-

 lane.  We  realized  that  we  needed  to  get  in  and  pre-split  rock  to

 remove  it  and  then  install  rock  fence  and  mesh  to  contain  the  rock.”

Alfred  Benesch  engineer  Dominic  Yannuzzi  explained  that  the  design  work

 on  the  plan  focuses  on  the  two

 worst  sections  of  the  downhill  grade.  He  said  where  the  rock  is  most  unstable,  steel  mash  drapes  will  be

 installed  to  constrain  the  shifting  rock.  “We’re  installing  the  mesh  to  prevent

 the  rocks  from  ejecting  out  into  the  roadway.”

Williams  sketched  the  parameters  of

 the  work,  stating,  “The  construction  zone  is  approximately  6,000  feet  in  length  starting  at  the  median  before  the

 split  – what  we  call  a  bifurcation  –

 and  terminating  around  the  Joe  Palooka  monument.”

Studying  the  scope  of  work  andthe  hazards  of  the  location,  headded,  “It  became  obvious  thatwe’d  have  to  close  down  the  lanesduring  construction.  For  the  safetyof  everyone  involved  we’d  have  toshut  down  those  lanes  to  all  trafficand  the  single  lanes  would  have  to  beseparated  by  concrete  barriers.”

Acknowledging  the  multi-jurisdiction  crowd,  Williamsexplained  that  Fairview  TownshipSupervisor  Bob  Orloski,  alreadyon  record  with  concerns  aboutemergency  response  within  therestrictive  construction  zone, contacted  him  regarding  theseconcerns.  “He  approached  me  aboutincident  management  strategy  inour  work  zone.  We  know  we  havemultiple  jurisdictions  and  we  willwork  out  the  details  to  coordinate  thisstrategy.”

Opening  the  discussion  to  theassembled,  comments  about  previousroad  blockages  were  received  fromSupervisors  Dan  Frascella,  RussMarhold  and  Mike  Iorio.  Fairviewstaff  also  attended.  HanoverTownship  sent  their  manager,  policeand  fire  chief  and  several  membersof  the  Hanover  Medic  Unit  9,  theparamedic  unit  for  the  MountaintopArea.  BLS  personnel  representedthe  Mountaintop  Area  AmbulanceAssociation.

Fairview  Police  Chief  JosephIntelicato  and  Wright  Chief  RoyceEngler  contributed  as  did  Fairviewand  Wright  fire  personnel.

Luzerne  County  was  representedby  Eric  Aigeldinger  from  theSheriff’s  Office  and  Jack  Robshawand  Fred  Rosencrans  attended  forLuzerne  County  9-1-1  EmergencyServices.

In  addition  to  Senator  Baker, Representative  Karen  Bobackattended,  along  with  aides  for  Sen. John  Yudichak,  Rep.  Gerald  Mulleryand  Eddie  Day  Pashinski  appeared  asdid  six  PennDOT  officials.

Each  participant  broughtexperience  to  enlighten  the  PennDOT

See Route 309 page 4