SCRANTON — Drivers in Lackawanna County are criticizing PennDOT for the way crews paved a pothole-filled road, paving only the shoulders but not the lanes.
PennDOT officials say there’s a good reason for that. It may just take a while before you see new pavement on the Morgan Highway.
PennDOT officials say they are getting calls and emails every day from drivers who use the Morgan Highway that connects Scranton with the Abingtons.
You can see it’s in pretty poor condition. PennDOT paved the shoulders weeks ago and officials promise the whole road will be paved by the end of the year but there’s one big hold up.
The bumpy ride we became accustomed to this winter will linger well past the Fourth of July. One part of west Scranton where Keyser Avenue meets the Morgan Highway is still riddled with potholes.
“A little bumpy, a little rough, not fun,” said Louis Gilman.
But one part of the Morgan Highway is nice and smooth: the shoulder. It was paved by PennDOT a few weeks ago. So drivers are calling foul. But a PennDOT spokesperson says crews only paved the shoulder because it was an immediate safety concern.
“If you hit a pothole, you’ll lose a tire. Up there because of the nature of the shoulder, if you hit that and are thrown off the road, you could lose a life. We went in and upgraded those shoulders up there on our own,” said PennDOT spokesman James May.
May says a contractor will pave the road, along with a part of Keyser Avenue, Main Avenue and Grove Street in Clarks Summit.
Harry Stevens, who rides the Morgan Highway every day, saw the paved shoulders as a positive sign.
“I know enough that when they’re doing the shoulders, they are going to use it as an access way when they do the two center pieces, so they have a place to park the vehicles. So you know that it’s coming to get fixed, but when?” Stevens asked.
That’s the big question. PennDOT says the big paving project won’t start until the fall.
PennDOT says handicapped access ramps are causing the holdups. They all need to be upgraded before that paving project can begin.
There are about 500 handicapped ramps along the roads included in the paving project. Upgrading them to federal standards will take a lot of time and about $2.5 million.
PennDOT officials say their hands are tied by federal regulations, but promise the roads will be all paved by the end of next summer.
“I mean, we have so many tractor trailers, the road took a beating. But you have got to address it. You can’t just forget about it,” Stevens said.
PennDOT officials say the contractor for the project has agreed to do some temporary pothole patching, especially on Keyser Avenue and the Morgan Highway while crews are working on the handicapped ramps. These two roads will also be the first to be paved, likely sometime this fall.