Central Scranton Expressway Lanes Near Restoration

April 20, 2019 GMT

Drivers will soon use different Central Scranton Expressway lanes to get in and out of the city, but normalcy won’t arrive until almost Thanksgiving.

Crews from Minichi Inc. of Dupont have labored since January to restore about 200 feet of two inbound expressway lanes removed in 2015 to build the new Harrison Avenue Bridge.

Since 2015, the state Department of Transportation has restricted expressway traffic to one lane inbound and one lane outbound on the remaining lanes.

Minichi removed part of the other lanes to create space for a platform necessary to drill into the earth to build the bridge’s South Scranton pier.

The lanes’ restoration as part of the $31.8 million bridge project may not rival the new bridge’s construction, but it’s still pretty interesting.

Galvanized steel straps not much wider than a pants belt help keep in place the earth that lies under the new lanes.

The straps and massive slabs of concrete form a retaining wall.

When it removed the lanes, Minichi carved out a volume of earth about 25 feet deep, 200 feet long and 30 feet wide.

To restore the lanes, the company installed about 20 stacks of three to five concrete panels about 10 feet wide and three to four feet high to form the retaining wall.

The concrete slabs stand on their long edges. Workers laid down one group of slabs and fastened them with a series of one-eighth-inch thick steel straps to the earth under the existing expressway lanes. After they enveloped the straps with a tar paper to protect them from percolating water that could rust them, crews filled in under the straps with a mix of rock and quarry dust.

Next, they covered the straps with more of the same rock and earth. As the pressure of the rock-earth mix pushes outward against the slabs, the mix also presses downward on the straps, which then pull the slabs back inward.

“The pressure of the dirt wants to blow this whole wall out, but the straps are holding it back,” project manager Pat McCabe said.

The process repeats with each layer of concrete slabs.

“You repeat that process all the way up,” McCabe said.

The restoration of the expressway lanes is nearing completion. Once they’re done, PennDOT will shift traffic to them so crews can repair about half of the 60 rain catch basins

on the lanes drivers use now.

The catch basins dot the edge of the expressway between Interstate 81 and the Spruce Street Complex at the University of Scranton.

The traffic shift should happen by June 1, McCabe said.

After crews finish the catch basins and other work, the entire expressway will get a fresh coat of pavement.

By November, drivers should be riding again on the four-lane expressway they traveled before 2015, McCabe said.

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