PennDOT Project Plans Change for Public Safety

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- One of two projects that would have tied up traffic near a hospital in Wilkes-Barre has been re-thought.

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority and PennDOT wanted to shut down two major arteries to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital at the same time. Now, that has changed.

PennDOT originally wanted to shut down the Route 309 off-ramp leading to general hospital in Wilkes-Barre, but now, they'll be repairing the on-ramp going toward Dallas.

For ambulances going to general hospital, time is everything.

That is why emergency responders were worried when they heard about plans to close the off-ramp from the southbound Cross Valley Expressway at the same time a sewer line project would close North River Street near the hospital.

"It was a major complication for public safety. If both were going to be done at the same time, we had some genuine concerns about getting people to the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital emergency room and trauma center," said Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney.

"It's a big deal for us, and it involves the Back Mountain. It involves Hanover. It involves everybody on the west side and even the northern departments," said Kingston Fire Chief Frank Guido.

Emergency officials met with PennDOT and the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority to let them know their concerns. Plans were changed with public safety in mind.

"If someone is having a heart attack, time is muscle as we say, and for every second or minute longer it takes to get to the emergency department, that's someone's heart. It could be heart muscle dying," Delaney said.

Tara Tailoring and Custom Clothing on North River Street is pleased those two major routes into Wilkes-Barre won't be closed at the same time.

"If they solve the problem, it will definitely solve part of the problem for me and anyone on this street who uses people for traffic patterns to bring business into their store," said George Tarasek, Tara Tailoring and Custom Clothing.

The sewer line project is expected to shut down part of North River Street for about three weeks in July. Work on the on-ramp to the northbound Cross Valley Expressway is scheduled to start June 1.

Repairs to the Route 309 off-ramp are now planned for next summer.

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