Plans were laid out for ongoing reconstruction of Interstate 84 across Pike County, during the March 19 supervisors' meeting of Blooming Grove Township.

BLOOMING GROVE TWP. - Plans were laid out for ongoing reconstruction of Interstate 84 across Pike County, during the March 19th supervisors’ meeting of Blooming Grove Township.

When plans were discussed for making an emergency helicopter landing zone in the triangle at Exit 30 (Route 402), Chairman Nick Mazza reminded PennDOT officials that whatever is done there, to respect the fact that the exit has been named in memory of a fallen State Trooper.

The design services consultant for PennDOT, John Vitez, representing L. R. Kimble, discussed the four phases of the project.

Representatives of local fire and EMS departments as well as both Palmyra and Blooming Grove townships were invited to hear the presentation and ask questions.

Four sections

The consultant focused particularly on Section 495, within Palmyra and Blooming Grove Townships. This seven mile stretch includes Exit 26 at Route 390, and Exit 30 at Route 402.

He also discussed at length Section 450, the most western phase and adjacent to Section 495, is about seven miles, starting at the Wayne/Pike county line to just past the rest areas and Shiny Mountain Road bridge. Within Sterling Township (Wayne County); Greene and Palmyra Townships (Pike County), the section includes the Route 507 interchange (Exit 20).

Shiny Mountain Road bridges, which span the separate westbound and eastbound lanes of I-84, will be replaced.

Two, 12-foot lanes in each direction are planned, with eight foot inside shoulders, 12 foot outside shoulders. The median will not change, except where some tree cutting is necessary for cross over lanes as one direction of I-84 is worked on at a time. Some ramps will be adjusted to meet criteria for proper length.

At Exit 30, where I-84 meets Route 402, ramps need to be lengthened to meet criteria but there is no major realignment changes.

Culverts carrying Egypt Creek and Geary Road need to be replaced.

One side will be done at a time, starting with eastbound lanes. Section 495 will be broken into four construction phases, each about three miles long. Median crossovers will be utilized.

Anticipated schedule

PennDOT is still working on section 449 (Blooming Grove and Dingman Townships), which was underway last year, and includes the Route 739 interchange with Exit 34. This will occupy the 2018 construction season.

Section 450, the far western portion of I-84 in Pike County (Greene and Palmyra Townships, as well as Sterling Township in Wayne County), is next in line. Bids are expected to be opened in late summer 2018, for Section 450 construction. Work starts in the fall of 2018, and stretch all the way to the 2022 construction season.

Then they bring in section 494 in the east, a five mile portion crossing Dingman and Milford Townships, and includes the Route 6 (Milford) interchange at Exit 46. Works stretches from the spring of 2022 to the end of 2023.

Preliminary engineering for section 495 is nearly done. This should be completed this spring (2018). This allow final design to begin, a process taking “at least two and a half years.” Permits need to be obtained.

The actual re-construction of this seven mile section will take four years.

Work on section 495 will start on the eastbound lanes. Bids for construction are expected to be let in late 2020 and actual work starting in the spring of 2021 (two years from now). That three mile piece will take a full construction season.

The second phase is the westbound lanes, with work scheduled to start in the spring of 2022 and last that construction season. The third phase switches to the eastbound lanes in 2023 on the other half of section 495. Lastly, westbound lanes on this half would be done in 2024.

Lot of orange barrels

“There’s a lot of construction work going on, on 84,” Vitez said. “You’ll see a lot of orange barrels, but again, 84 does need to be re-constructed. It’s in bad shape right now. It’s well overdue for that.”

A question was raised about potholes on I-84. The consultant said that the contracts calls for repairing potholes on the lanes that are in use within the section undergoing construction.

The integrity of the median in section 495 was questioned. Trees will only be cut at the crossovers. About 300,000 cubic yards of waste will be deposited where the contractor decides within the PennDOT right-of-way, although a permit will be needed. V-ditch medians tend to make sense for depositing the waste, the consultant said, although a resident in the audience remarked that the aesthetics and noise from this work is “terrible.”

Landing zone

There is discussion of putting an emergency services helicopter landing zone at the Route 402 junction (Exit 30). Vitez said that they are looking at some conceptual layouts, which would have to be approved by PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. There was nothing definite at this point, he stressed.

Supervisor Mazza added that he understands this is a separate PennDOT project, and is the site where originally there was a plan to bury pyrite taken from the Milford Road project. The site is within the triangle formed with the ramp on the westbound lanes, connecting with Route 402.

The consultant said it was about 130 by 130 feet, using Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

“I would just like to mention also,” Mazza interjected. “That area has become something of a sore spot in the township. It is dedicated to the memory and honor of a fallen trooper, so we hope that whatever is done there is done with that in mind.”

[Exit 30 is named for Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II of the PA State Police, who was killed in 2014 in an ambush outside the Blooming Grove barracks a short distance away.]

The I-84 project was first announced in 2013. The largest highway project in Northeastern Pennsylvania since the Casey Highway was built in the 1990s, I-84 in Pike County had to be replaced due to a faulty base laid down in the 1970s that has been slowly deteriorating the road from the bottom up. The preliminary project cost is approximately $90 million and involves replacing sections in phases along 30 miles of interstate.

[Read the Saturday print edition for more meeting items.]

Blooming Grove Township Supervisors meet on the first and third Monday at 6 p.m. at the offices, at 488 Route 739.