Viaduct, Route 61 at the top of PennDOT's 'to do' list
PennDOT will be undertaking some major projects locally over the next year, including bridge work on the Mount Carmel Viaduct and the resurfacing of Route 61 from Weigh Scales to Paxinos.
In their annual visit to The News-Item, District 3-0 executives discussed 50 maintenance projects they have planned for Northumberland County and 36 in Columbia County.
One of the biggest undertakings will be the Route 61 resurfacing, which will cover 4.5 miles.
"In the past, when we put the new deck on the bridge, we resurfaced the road from the hospital to Weigh Scales, and now we are just continuing the project," said Sandra Tosca, District 3-0 executive.
Bids are expected to be opened for the contract in April 2015, but the estimated cost is $2.1 million.
The area will also see some bridge preservation work coming on the Viaduct in Mount Carmel and near Route 61 in the Uniontown section of Coal Township and on Route 487 in Ralpho Township.
"Most of the bridge contracts that we are doing will either be epoxy overlays, which would be putting down liquid epoxy, followed by a high skid-resistant aggregate, similar to a seal coat, and that seals the bridge deck," Tosca said.
A few of the other bridges will be having some joints replacements if they are leaking, and there are a few bridge painting contracts as well, she said.
The PennDOT crew was worried about funding for this year's projects; $21 million was used this winter to help treat and clear the roads, including $2.5 million spent in Northumberland County.
Thanks to good planning and Act 89 of 2013, the transportation funding bill, assistant district executive Eric E. High breathed a little easier over the cost, since PennDOT budgeted only $13 million for this past winter.
Because the fiscal year starts in July, High said it allows the county maintenance departments to have two "summer work periods" - the first running from July to September and the second from April to June.
"We don't do all of our major work in the first period, because we wait to see if we need extra money to take care of our winter needs," High said.
Because of the extra Act 89 money, coming from raised drivers fees and the gas tax, PennDOT didn't have any worries about missing any projects in the second summer work period.
"Not only did Act 89 get us through the winter, but it helped us maintain our summer program," High said. "We are also ramping up for the coming year's projects because of the extra funding."
One project that county maintenance manager Bernie Klusman said his department will undertake will be a resurfacing of Irish Valley Road from Route 61 in Shamokin Township and Route 890 in Rockefeller Township, all 7.8 miles of it.
"We will be putting about three inches of binder on that road which will be a nice rejuvenation of the surface," Klusman said.
"This is a project that has been deferred for a number of years since we have been trying to find the funding for it," Tosca said.
County maintenance works have also started a bridge replacement project on Little Roaring Creek Road in Mayberry Township near Elysburg.
"We are replacing that bridge with a rigid box culvert, so we don't have to do anything with the stream bed," Klusman said.
When not improving roads in Northumberland County, the department is busy precasting bridge beams for other maintenance districts.
"We are about ready to cast about seven beams for District 4, Luzerne County, and just finished eight beams for Clinton County and District 2," Klusman said.