PennDOT Pipe Project Will Cause Traffic Headaches In 2020

February 21, 2018 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — State officials on Tuesday described the scope of a project that will temporarily close a major traffic artery connecting the city with Wilkes-Barre Twp. in 2020.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will replace two corrugated metal drainage pipes that carry water from Spring Run under Northampton Street near the state Route 309 overpass because the aged pipes are starting to crush, which in turn is causing a sag in the roadway, Catherine Daniels, PennDOT senior civil engineering supervisor for bridges, explained during a hearing on the project at City Hall.


The pipes will be replaced with a 12-foot-by-4-foot precast concrete box culvert, Daniels said.

John Pivovarnick, PennDOT senior civil engineering supervisor for roadways, said the section of road would be completely closed for about 10 days and work would continue 24 hours a day until the project was complete. He estimated the cost to be around $500,000.

A detour being considered would include Northampton Street to state Route 309 (Wilkes-Barre Twp. Boulevard) to Blackman Street to Hazle Street/Park Avenue, and back to Northampton Street — all state roads comprising a 3.5-mile detour.

Pivovarnick said PennDOT will ask the city for permission to use Coal Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard as a detour route instead, as it’s one mile shorter.

The officials had maps and preliminary design plans available for review.

Several city officials and residents at the hearing asked questions and offered feedback.

Fire Chief Jay Delaney asked if emergency vehicles would be able to pass through the construction site. Pivovarnick said they would not.

Keith Williams, PennDOT senior civil engineering supervisor, said the state would notify the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency two weeks in advance of the road closure, and the county could advise municipal officials, who would then prepare to implement a plan for emergency responses from police and fire.

County Councilman Rick Williams asked if the roadway could be widened to accommodate a bicycle lane, given that the street is a likely path for the Delaware & Lehigh Trail, which is planned to extend into downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Pivovarnick said he’ll present the request to project designers for consideration.

Councilwoman Beth Gilbert raised concerns about higher traffic on Coal Street presenting additional danger to pedestrian children, given the proximity to Coal Street Park.


PennDOT officials said they’ll consider all concerns and proposed solutions.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will hold another hearing on the “Northampton Street Over Spring Run Project” at 7 p.m. Monday at the Wilkes-Barre Township Municipal Building, 150 Watson St., Wilkes-Barre Township.