WILKES-BARRE — When Wilkes-Barre put in its order with Domino’s Pizza, the chain delivered with a hot asphalt topping for the city’s pothole-riddled roads.
On Tuesday, a portion of the $5,000 “Paving for Pizza” grant from Domino’s helped smooth the ride on North Main Street.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George watched a city Department of Public Works crew crisscross the congested street to fill the holes. The city supplies the labor and the grant money pays for the asphalt, he said.
“Potholes in Northeastern Pennsylvania are as prevalent as our region’s love for pizza. I’m grateful for Domino’s for their pizza and for the assistance in patching our potholes,” George said.
The city received the grant as part of a new program Domino’s is running across the country with the slogan “Bad roads shouldn’t happen to good pizza.” The company dispatched a crew from a promotion agency to take video of the paving.
Ordinarily, the city takes care of the potholes and road maintenance through its Liquid Fuels program funded by a tax the state imposes on gas, diesel and other fuels and distributes to municipalities. This year the city budgeted $1,215,800 in Liquid Fuels, but just $15,000 goes toward paving material, $20,000 toward paving and $25,000 for maintenance.
The city eventually would have gotten to North Main, which is on a long list of streets being repaired since April, the mayor said. “Everything’s helpful. Everything the city can get is helpful,” George said.
The help comes at a time when the city is waiting to hear on its request to be declared financially distressed by the state under Act 47. The paving came during the morning rush and further snarled traffic on North Main, jammed due to a detour from construction on North River Street and a city garbage truck picking up residents’ trash left curbside.
“I guess for the notoriety,” George responded to a reporter’s question on why North Main was chosen.
‘First to pave’
Domino’s spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre said the city’s streets got her company’s attention through a nominating process.
“We reached out to Wilkes-Barre based on nominations on the pavingforpizza.com website,” Fouracre said in an email.
The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company created the program for its customers and the communities where it does business. All recipients receive the same amount, Fouracre said.
“Wilkes-Barre is the first to pave since the program was announced in June. More cities that have accepted the grants will be announced soon. The grants are for pothole or other necessary road repairs,” Fouracre said.
Butch Frati, the city’s Director of Operations, helped direct traffic around the paving crew that included a pickup truck, a dump truck hauling the asphalt and a small roller to flatten the material shoveled onto the street by two workers.
The city will be able to purchase three to four tons of asphalt with the grant and fill potholes throughout the city, Frati said.
“We may elect at some point to fix one large area,” said Frati, explaining the grant leaves it up to the city on how to use it.
The truckload Tuesday cost between $350 and $400 and filled holes almost to the Plains Township line, Frati said.
A DPW crew will hit the roads again Thursday with another load paid for with the grant.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.