MAHONING TOWNSHIP — PennDOT’s presentation to stop rock slides on Route 209 drew a crowd in part of Carbon County.
The $3 million plan calls for removing loose rocks from Flagstaff Mountain between Jim Thorpe and Lehighton, improving a retaining wall and shoulder and putting in protective netting.
The goal is to start work later this year, likely in the summer and continue through late spring of 2019.
There have been several dangerous rock slides in that area, a big one in October that took weeks to clear and one a few weeks ago that left a driver with a smashed windshield.
“When you bring 10 tons of rock from 80 feet in the air down, you can’t always control exactly where it will fall and how it’s a safety issue for workers, motorists, everybody, we don’t want anybody nearby when we’re doing that work,” said Michael McGuire, a project consultant for PennDOT.
Because of those safety concerns, for part of the project, all lanes of this section of Route 209 will be closed to traffic.
A 16-mile detour will be in effect.
Route 209 will be open on weekends and holidays.
“Our concern is to see about road closures and to see which way we can use our vehicles to travel with those closures and to see about the issue getting fixed,” said Steve Vlossak of Pocono Whitewater Rafting.
A council member from Jim Thorpe says she is worried about how this project will affect local businesses.
“We have a lot of merchants there, it’s going to hinder the traffic in there, I feel bad for the merchants, that’s one of my big concerns,” said Joanne Klitsch.
Some at this meeting say they do not think that stretch of 209 will ever really be safe, no matter what.
“It’s a huge danger, it’s a huge danger and it has to be eliminated and in my opinion, don’t put any more money on that road, I’m in favor of a bypass because the more money you put in it, you’re not gonna solve the problem of slides,” said Jerry Strubinger of Jim Thorpe.