WILKES-BARRE — Gov. Tom Wolf and PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards this week highlighted upcoming road work in the six-county northeast region, including the anticipated 626 roadway miles that will be rehabilitated, reconstructed or resurfaced, and 83 bridges that will be improved.
“We are committed not only to larger construction projects but also to improvements on rural roadways that connect our communities,” Wolf said in a news release. “These investments enhance safety and travel conditions for the public as well as businesses.”
There are plans to improve more than 1,100 rural and low-volume roadway miles and rehabilitate or replace at least 85 municipally owned bridges over five years.
Richards highlighted work beginning this week on Route 4017 (Egypt Drive) in Wayne County as an example of lower-traffic roadways on which PennDOT will complete Recycled Asphalt Paving (RAP) to extend pavement life. The work is made possible through the department’s Road Maintenance and Preservation initiative, part of which expands the use of RAP to stretch resources and improve or reinforce shoulders of lower-traffic roadways.
“We have made more resources available to enhance rural roadways and extend pavement life,” Richards said. “With these investments complementing our construction program, we are making significant improvements in the northeast region.”
District 4 Executive George Roberts said more than $464 million in new and continuing projects will be done in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties throughout the year. In addition to the scheduled bridge and roadway improvements, an additional 46 projects such as slope repair, park & ride, and safety enhancements are anticipated to begin or continue across the region during this construction season.
“The projects that we have planned for this year will improve both travel and safety for motorists across the region,” Roberts said. “But with so many projects underway, it is vital that motorists use extreme caution when driving through work zones.”
Notable projects expected to be begin this year include:
• Bridge rehabilitation on Interstate 84 over Roaring Brook and Lackawanna County Railroad in Roaring Brook, Lackawanna County ($1.2 million).
• Paving 24 miles of Route 11 (Salem Boulevard) and Route 415 (Lakeside Drive) in Luzerne County ($21 million).
• Paving 16 miles of Silver Lake Road in Pike County and Rock Lake Road in Wayne County ($3 million).
• Paving Route 92 (River Street), Route 171 (Upper Road), Route 171 (State Street), Route 371 (Great Bend Turnpike), Route 1021 (Brushville Road) and Route 1041 (Maple Street) in Susquehanna County ($2.5 million).
• Rehabilitating Route 11 over Route 92 in Nicholson Borough in Wyoming County ($1 million).
Department-force resurfacing and improvement work expected to start this year includes Shickshinny Road, 9.9 miles in Union and Huntington townships, Luzerne County; and Bethel Hill Road, 7 miles in Fairmont Township, Luzerne County.
Pa. Senate OKs bill to review
The Pennsylvania Senate this week unanimously approved legislation that would create a statewide review committee to identify and investigate pregnancy-related deaths among expectant and new mothers, according to Sens. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, and Judy Schwank, D-Berks County, who strongly supported the measure.
Baker, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said House Bill 1869 would establish a 14-member Maternal Mortality Review Committee made up of experts who would obtain a more accurate count of the deaths of women who die within one year of the end of a pregnancy, determine the cause and develop recommendations to prevent such deaths.
“National maternal mortality rates have seen a sharp increase in the United States, and the rate has more than doubled in Pennsylvania since 1994,” Baker said. “We need to better identify the cause of pregnancy-related deaths and recommend actions to prevent them.”
Between 700 and 900 women die each year in the U.S. from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth, and the rate of life-threatening complications has soared in the past few decades, impacting more than 50,000 women annually.
“The creation of this committee will play a critical role in ensuring that pregnancy-related deaths are identified and reviewed, and in promoting initiatives to prevent these tragedies,” Baker said. “Our goal is to consistently track and record this data so we can translate it into policy changes that can help save lives.”
West Pittston part
of Pa. Senate hearing
The Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee this week held a joint hearing on “Flooding and Emergency Response.”
This past winter, flooding took place all throughout the state. The committees heard from county and local officials from Allegheny, Bradford, and Dauphin counties in addition to several boroughs, including West Pittston, which was flooded due to an ice jam on the Susquehanna River in January.
The state Department of Environmental Protection, Emergency Management Agency, and the Fish & Boat Commission testified on their roles in managing flooding issues as well as resources available to local officials.
The committees urged the state agencies to work more closely with local officials to clean out creeks from debris so flooding can be prevented or limited. The hearing provided an opportunity to discuss necessary resources and financial assistance for many towns still in recovery.
State debuts video on senior
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Aging this week hosted a debut screening of “Preparing Together for Emergencies” — a video that prepares older Pennsylvanians for disaster and emergency situations.
Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne welcomed local seniors to the screening and emphasized the importance of having a preparedness plan.
A PEMA survey from last year revealed only 26 percent of Pennsylvanians age 65 and older had a plan in place for disaster circumstances. As a result, the Department of Aging and PEMA collaborated to create an educational video as part of the Department of Aging’s MindMatters series.
“Protecting seniors and ensuring they are prepared for emergency situations is a priority of the Wolf administration,” said Secretary Osborne. “A disaster can strike at any time, and it’s imperative that seniors and their families have considered their unique needs, such as necessary medical equipment or prescription medications, in order to successfully evacuate or take shelter.”
PEMA Director Richard Flinn also stressed the importance of having a plan in place, keeping in mind those 65 and older can be more vulnerable if faced with periods of time lacking food, water, or shelter.
The video will be free to view in participating senior centers throughout the state.
Additionally, PEMA and the Department of Aging encourage older Pennsylvanians and their families to download the “Get Ready Now” three-step pocket guide on emergency preparedness for older adults. You can find additional information on how to be informed, prepared, and involved at www.Ready.PA.gov.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.