Flood Relief for Damaged National Park

Part of a busy road in the Poconos closed after storm damage last summer could reopen later this year.

This week the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area received $9.5 million in federal money to fix parts of the park devastated by last year`s storms, most notably a section of busy Route 209 that cuts through the park.

Since September, a half-mile stretch of Route 209 in the park has been closed.

Park officials said storms last summer caused huge cracks in the road.

“The road sunk several inches.  If you look at the crack in the road, you think you can throw patch on there, but the road actually shifted ten feet,” said Bill Leonard, Acting Deputy Park Superintendent.

The park service said nearly 7,000 vehicles travel Route 209 through the park each day.  For months, they have had to take a two-mile detour around the damaged section of road.

“It’s really difficult, because I travel through Milford, through 209 to Jersey and we have to go all the way around to get back to where we started from,” said Annette Kirkland of Dingmans Ferry.

For some businesses in Dingmans Ferry, the detour brings customers.

“They’re going to come straight into here, follow the detour sign. They’re going to see our big “Vanilla Pig” sign and come in here and going to shop, we hope,” said Carol Fortino, the owner of The Vanilla Pig Gift Shop.

“I think it provides an opportunity for people to come through this town who wouldn’t normally do so, and they can discover some new things to do come summertime,” said Faith Meade, who works at Arnold’s Country Mini Mart.

This week the park received $9.5 million in federal money to make repairs to the road and to other sections of the park hit hard by the storms.

Another chunk of the funding will go to reconstruct part of the McDade Trail that was washed out by all the rain.

“Dingmans Falls Road, which is another visitor attraction, we’ve got some major washouts on the side of that so that road is currently closed and we can’t open that road until we get those repairs made,” said Leonard.

The repair work on Route 209 through Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is expected to start in the spring and wrap up by the fall.

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