LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- Keyser Avenue stretches from West Scranton to Taylor. It's one of the busiest roads in and out of Scranton and the work on the road will be one of PennDOT's biggest projects in a few years. Crews started a $10 million, three-year project to update this road on Monday.
Keyser Avenue has been on PennDOT's to-do list for a decade or more. During that time PennDOT acquired a condemned property they needed to get the paving project done. As time passed and the project pushed back. Its since been labeled the "PennDOT house."
Now, tearing down the PennDOT house will be one of the first steps toward completing the long-awaited $10 million improvement project.
Contractors are out this week doing other preliminary jobs before the paving begins. The crews were moving and replacing a water line in Scranton. Others were pushing utility poles away from the road.
"Widening the shoulders is a big aspect of what we're doing," said James May, PennDOT spokesperson. "Once we widen the shoulders and do all of this other work we believe it will alleviate some of the traffic problems and upgrade this road which has desperately needed to be upgraded for quite some time."
May said the project on Keyser Avenue will also include new traffic lights and turn lanes from Scranton to Taylor. One of those new lights will go near Fin & Paw grooming salon, that sat along Keyser Avenue for 30 years. Owner Helen-Marie Olecki says she feels she's been waiting almost that long for improvements to be made to the road.
"For years, for years we've been waiting so it's a blessing in disguise," she said. "It's a blessing but it's a curse as well because of the traffic and our business will slow down."
PennDOT officials say paving Keyser Avenue will be a bit of an experiment for them, too. It's a four-mile stretch and along each mile PennDOT will use a different type of blacktop, some more environmentally friendly than others. Then, they'll wait and see which one holds up best.
Of course, that experimental paving will come toward the end of what PennDOT officials say will likely be a three-year project. Drivers say a smoother ride is worth the wait.
""Well anything can't be worse than this here, it is bad now," said Sean Bingham of Scranton. "If they're going to fix it, they're going to have to tolerate it."
PennDOT officials say while crews are in the preliminary stages, there will be different sections of Keyser Avenue cut down to one lane each day.