Ongoing Veterans Memorial Bridge work one of several PennDOT projects

Last updated: August 20. 2013 11:46PM - 3503 Views
BILL O’BOYLE boboyle@timesleader.com

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Traffic on the Veterans Memorial Bridge switched lanes Tuesday, and traffic will remain one lane in each direction until summer of 2014.

According to Mike Taluto, PennDOT spokesman, traffic over the span crossing the Susquehanna River connecting Wilkes-Barre and Kingston was moved to the completed new deck while work commenced on the other two lanes of the four-lane bridge.

Taluto said minor delays can be expected and flaggers would be used to control and direct traffic.

“Drivers should pay attention to the flaggers and all signs,” Taluto said.

The $6 million project is expected to be completed by mid-2014, he said. The project will also include excavation, pavement, temporary traffic control, concrete median barrier, cement concrete curb and sidewalk, pavement markings, removal of portion of existing bridge, traffic control beneath the bridge, concrete repair and other miscellaneous construction.

Fahs Construction Group of Binghamton, N.Y., is the contractor.

Hazleton project

Meanwhile, in Hazleton the Broad Street $28 million reconstruction project will continue to the end of the construction season and into next spring.

James May, spokesman for PennDOT, said the project will be “nearly complete” by November, but one section — between Vince and Cedar streets — won’t get a final coat of pavement until early spring. PennDOT originally had thought the project would be finished this year.

“When we ripped up the road we found pockets where the concrete under-base had deteriorated,” May said. “So we decided to fix the concrete under-base and a rough coat will be put down before winter sets in. We’ll have to come back in the spring to pave the finish coat.”

May said there may be a few “cosmetic things” left to complete in the spring as well, but he said most of the project will be done by early November.

“The delay won’t be as bad as some people think,” May said. “If the weather cooperates, we’ll get most of the project done before the temperatures drop.”

May said some people might wonder why the project can’t be finished this year. He said that when temperatures get into the mid 40s and lower, the paving will not hold up as well as when it’s applied during warmer temperatures.

“There’s always a temptation to rush to get a project done,” May said. “But our engineers feels it’s better to get it done right even if we have to wait until spring.”

He said the project began in November 2010 with utility work that needed to be done before road construction began. He said PennDOT has been working on the project for three years.

May and Taluto offered updates on other major road projects in Luzerne County:

• Route 309 Mountain Top

Partial design/build project for the repair of rock slopes and removal of rock with pre-split blasting; pavement work, concrete barrier, drainage, erosion and sediment control measures, pavement markings and other construction. Work has not begun yet.

Estimated completion, November 2014; cost, out for bid; traffic impact, possible single lane in both directions, possible slow moving traffic.

• North Main Street, Wilkes-Barre near Public Square

Project includes the construction of sidewalks, granite curbing, drainage and other construction along North Main Street. Estimated completion, October 2013; cost, $ 611,522; prime contractor, Popple Construction Inc. of Laflin. Traffic impact is unknown.

• Interstate 81, Avoca: Reconstruction of I-81, Exit 178, and Airport Access Road; estimated completion: November 2015; cost: $41.9 million.

The project will include the construction of about a mile of new roadway , paved shoulders, drainage, guide rail, scaling of rock slopes and pavement markers; replacment of a pedestrian bridge, construction of a new beam bridge and pre-cast arch culvert. Prime contractor is Pennsy Supply of Annville.

Traffic impact: Daytime work will not impact traffic at this time,but night work will. Widening work on I-81 through this area could cause major delays with single lane closures.

• Interstate 81 bridges

Replacement of bridges over Jumper and Sunset roads; estimated completion, July, 2016; cost, $20.7 million; work includes the replacement of four existing structures; all bridges will be replaced and widened to allow for two lanes of traffic in both directions on I-81 to be maintained during construction; prime contractor, New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co., Inc. of New Enterprise; traffic impact limited to lane shifts.

• Safety improvements

State Route 118 and Idetown Road; estimated completion, July 2014; cost, $1 million; widening full depth of intersection ; 4-foot shoulders, embankment, pavement base drain, new guide rail, drainage, erosion and sediment control measures, pavement markings, and other construction. Prime contractor: New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc. of New Enterprise; traffic impact unknown.

• Airport Road

Hazleton Airport safety improvements; estimated completion, August 2014; cost, $ 9.2 million; project consists of five new and modified traffic signals and construction of two box culverts, center turn lane, overlay of the existing road; prime contractor, Barletta Materials & Construction Inc., of Tamaqua; traffic impacts, unknown.

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