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
“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