Act 89 makes 22 area projects possible

Last updated: April 03. 2014 11:10PM - 1866 Views
By - jsylvester@civitasmedia.com

Work has begun on construction of the new Navy Way Road that will connect Commerce Road in the Grimes Industrial Park to Terminal Road near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Work has begun on construction of the new Navy Way Road that will connect Commerce Road in the Grimes Industrial Park to Terminal Road near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
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Microseal’ theories full of holes

State Department of Transportation officials are trying to figure out why a portion of Interstate 81 in Luzerne County, from just south of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport exit to the Nanticoke exit area, is developing potholes, even though it was resurfaced not even two years ago.

PennDOT District 4 Executive George Roberts said the road was paved with a ‘microseal’ cover, a liquid material that includes oil, chips and cement mixed together, to resurface the road. PennDOT has used the material for years on other roads with no problems, but this stretch of highway is developing potholes sooner than it should.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen this kind of failure with the microchip seal,” Roberts said Thursday, adding the region has not seen such an extreme winter in some time, either.

Water that gets under road surfaces expands pavement during freeze-thaw cycles, creating potholes.

PennDOT has pulled out core samples of the road surface that include several levels of pavement to have them tested.

But Roberts said the cause is a mystery. He said the same sealing material was used on 25 miles of the interstate in Susquehanna County and over five miles near Hazleton without potholes developing so soon.

DUNMORE –Dallas Township and Larksville Borough are getting new creek bridges and eight other state roads in Luzerne County are in line for new pavement this year, thanks to the state’s multibillion-dollar transportation plan.

The bridge along state Route 87 that spans Mehoopany Creek in Wyoming County also is slated for replacement.

State officials on Thursday unveiled the projects that are in line for funds this year under Act 89, which is expected to generate an additional $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion a year by fiscal year 2017 to replace thousands of bridges and repair more than 10,000 miles of roads across Pennsylvania.

The bill makes possible $288 million for 22 projects in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s six-county Northeast region alone. The district encompasses Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming, Pike, Susquehanna and Wayne counties.

“If we didn’t get this transportation bill, our budget would have been very strained,” District Executive George Roberts said during a news conference at the District 4 office, citing cuts in federal funds. “Those projects would be put on hold without (Act 89).”

The projects Roberts announced will get under way this year, though not all may be finished by year’s end.

Projects in coming years will be announced, though some are known. They include the Dallas roundabout and the River Street Corridor project in Wilkes-Barre, both slated for next year, PennDOT spokesman Michael Taluto said.

Roberts’ news briefing Thursday afternoon followed Gov. Tom Corbett’s announcement earlier in the day that more than $2.1 billion in highway and bridge projects will begin this year. That’s $600 million more than what would have been available without Act 89.

More than 250 of about 900 projects are starting this year with funding from Act 89.

Roberts said the region’s projects under the transportation plan include resurfacing more than 145 miles of non-interstate roadway throughout the six counties for $41 million.

But the projects under the transportation plan are not the only ones PennDOT has lined up for this year. Roberts said crews will tackle 64 additional projects this year.

Those projects include the $5.2 million Mountain Top rock cut project along state Route 309, and 32 bridge replacements.

Among those is the project already under way to replace four single-span bridges along Interstate 81 in Jenkins Township. The $27 million project is expected to be completed in 2017.

Also under way is the $41.9 million airport project to widen bridges on Interstate 81, repair existing bridges over Lidy Road, state Route 315 and Plane Street, replace the pedestrian bridge just north of the Avoca exit, construct new exit and entrance ramps, three new roundabouts, two new bridges and a new roadway.

The construction of the new Navy Way Road will connect Commerce Road in the Grimes Industrial Park to Terminal Road.

The state will raise funding for the Act 89 projects by gradually uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax paid at the wholesale level after eliminating the 12-cent state retail gas tax that drivers pay at the pump and by increasing driver registration and license fees, traffic-control device fines and by eliminating registration stickers by 2017.

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