HANOVER TOWNSHIP – PennDOT officials said a restriction on tractor-trailers in one construction zone is on hold, because hundreds of detour signs are not ready in Luzerne County.
Blasting work started this morning on Route 309, as contractors work to remove parts of a rock cut between Wilkes-Barre and the Mountain Top area.
PennDOT officials told Newswatch 16 that a mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil is being used in the controlled explosions.
The $5.2M safety enhancement program is expected to help reduce runoff and icing on the busy roadway.
Tractor-trailers weighing more than 10 tons are supposed to be banned from the construction zone, but PennDOT spokesperson James May said big rigs are allowed to drive through, because hundreds of detour signs still haven’t been made.
“There are about 300 signs that you need to put up for a 26 mile detour. Those signs, we’re still waiting on them to come in. We didn’t want to hold up the project any longer, so we made the decision to go ahead for the first week or so,” said May. “A lot of the companies have called us already and they`re already just sort of self-imposing the truck ban, so they can get used to it. Until we have the signs up, we really can`t enforce any type of ban.”
Some drivers told Newswatch 16 that they think the project should have been put on hold, until the detour signs could be put up.
"There was a big rig parked on the other side, and I don`t know why he was over there,” said Pat Lasoski. “He didn`t look like he belonged there.”
Other residents in the Mountain Top area said they’re relieved that the safety project is getting done.
"I would rather have it done now, with the trucks traveling for a short period of time, then have it delayed in November, when the weather is bad and there`s snow,” said April Jacobson.
PennDOT said the big rig detour signs should be made and posted within the next week or two.
Contractors are expected to stop traffic for around ten minutes on Route 309 at least once a day, as blasting work continues over the next few weeks in Luzerne County.