Unusually rumbly drives on a stripped-down Business Route 309 through Wilkes-Barre Township should soon be over because paving is set to begin Thursday night, state transportation department representatives said.
Contractors had removed the top two inches of the busy roadway’s surface between July 8 and July 18, leaving it bumpy and uneven, the department said. The impacted span is from the area of the Home Depot in Wilkes-Barre Township to Pine Run Road near the Joe Palooka Monument in Hanover Township.
Resurfacing was supposed to immediately follow exposure of the underlying roadway, but the rainy weather halted those plans, said George Welki, the department’s inspector overseeing the project.
In hindsight, the contractors likely would have delayed the top layer removal to reduce the duration motorists were forced to drive on the raw stretch, he said.
Weather permitting, contractors plan to add a half-inch middle layer of asphalt over the next three or four nights, Welki said.
Crews will work from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to minimize traffic disruption, with flaggers directing traffic through the construction zone, he said.
This intermediate asphalt layer is increasingly included in department projects to form a stronger base, Welki said.
The rotating drum with teeth that’s used to tear out the old road — a process known as milling — does not buff out grooves and holes, he said.
“It seems to make for a better overlay in the end,” Welki said of the thin layer sandwiched between.
Asphalt next week?
Contractors plan to add the final 1.5-inch asphalt top next week, but the middle spread will still be smoother than the roadway in its current state if that work is delayed, he said.
In total, 7.7 miles of Business Route 309 are slated for resurfacing. The project was deemed a priority to address numerous cracks, potholes and other deterioration, Welki said. Depending on the spot, the route is also identified as Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard, Spring Street and Kidder Street, department maps show.
Contractors have not yet milled the portion from the Home Depot to Valley Crest Drive near the Cross Valley Expressway because disability-accessible ramps must first be installed, Welki said.
New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co., based in New Enterprise, is handling the $4 million project, which is targeted for completion Nov. 26, department representatives said.
Meanwhile, a future proposal to reconfigure the highway hub where the 309 paving project ends near the Cross Valley is still under discussion.
Developer Robert Tambur is seeking a tax diversion to fund reconfiguration of that congested highway so he can proceed with a $100 million commercial development project at the 62.3-acre former Valley Crest site his family’s company, Tamburro R.E. Development and Management, purchased from the county for $2.075 million in 2015.
Under this Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) program, property owners within a designated zone in the impacted area would pay all taxes, but participating taxing bodies sacrifice the portion from new development to pay off a loan to fund the infrastructure.
Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley, who serves on the committee drafting a proposed TIF, told his colleagues this week the committee is now awaiting some decisions from Tambur on which additional infrastructure funding streams will be sought by the developer.
Tambur said Thursday he is exploring all options to reduce the amount that must be diverted by taxing bodies.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.