Route 209 in Carbon County Closed for Rock Slide Cleanup

MAHONING TOWNSHIP -- Route 209 between Jim Thorpe and Lehighton in Carbon County is closed so crews can begin to remove rocks that slid into part of the roadway.

The rock slide happened last month.

Chiseling away piece by piece, the giant rocks from a rock slide that have been sitting on Route 209 in Mahoning Township are finally getting cleaned up.

While work is underway, drivers using this stretch of Route 209 will be greeted by road closure signs.

Dolores Cole from Easton was one of many drivers that found themselves turning around.

"I don't know? Well, it's closed. Nothing I can do about it," said Cole.

The cleanup is expected to take about three weeks. During that time, full closures of Route 209 between Jim Thorpe and Lehighton will be in place every weekday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The detour involves many different roads and PennDOT officials say drivers should follow the detour signs, likely adding about 20 minutes to the trip.

"They are going to be rappeling from the side of the mountain. They are going to find all the loose stuff and utilize hammers, chisels, bars, airbags and loosen and take all those rocks, drop it to the bottom, dig it up, and haul it away," said Calvin Ulshafer, PennDOT Construction Manager.

PennDOT officials tell Newswatch 16 a lot of the cleanup will be done by hand. Crews will chisel away at the rocks and then load them into trucks. Once the whole cleanup is complete, about 12 truckloads of rocks will be hauled away.

Officials say although the rock slide was a natural occurrence, they are looking at ways to prevent it from happening again.

"There is a couple of things we are looking at. One is removing the loose rock that is up there. That is what they are going be to doing. Two is, they are going to look at and in places that need any immediate attention for wire mesh netting, they may put some of that up to protect it for now. We also have a project that is in design that we are hoping to put to construction next summer," said Ron Young, PennDOT spokesperson.

People who live and work in this part of Carbon County say they are happy to see work finally begin.

"I wouldn't want to be caught in a rock slide so it's smart for them to take every safety precaution," said Chris Wharton.

A single lane will be open on Route 209 north and south weekdays from 2 p.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. Fridays through 9 a.m., Mondays.