|BE PREPARED TO STOP. Also, there's a tractor-trailer on fire up ahead. Have a nice day!|
All that is about to end.
Times Leader: Work begins on long-awaited roundabouts in Nanticoke (January 31, 2016)
One of the most controversial recent road projects in northeastern Pennsylvania has been the revamping of the exit for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP, in travel professional lingo) to and from I-81. The exit was workable as it was, if a bit awkward; people trying to get to some locations off the exit would have to make a U-turn at or near the airport. Someone had the bright idea to install a roundabout, or traffic circle, at the exit, so people getting on and off of 81 could have smooth access to all of the places that you can get to from the exit, and could easily access 81 north and south from those places. Yeah. That didn't work out. Whether from disastrously poor planning that made the roundabout too tight and narrow to be useful to the tractor-trailers that sometimes need to take that exit, or from the general absence of signs letting drivers know which way to go to get where they want to go (instead, the signs seem to wordlessly indicate "cyclopses this way, aliens that way"), or perhaps the general lack of usefulness of a roundabout in this situation, the project has been a disaster from the moment it was opened to the public.
The new project is about to place six roundabouts between me and where I work.
|Nanticoke (left) and Hanover Industrial Park (right). All maps from Google Maps.|
I live near the place marked "Greater Nanticoke High School" on the center left of the map above. I work in the industrial park on the center right of the image. There are several ways I can get to work. The orange line representing Route 29 looks like it would be the most convenient, but it isn't, due to relatively heavy traffic on it and a fairly complex off-ramp interface. My preferred route involves taking the road marked 2010 on the map, a lightly-traveled two-lane road that runs right into the industrial park. On the return commute I prefer to take Dundee Crossing Road, which is on the center of the map above and runs from South Main Street (Middle Road) to the Sans Souci Parkway. This isn't the shortest or most convenient road, but it is the prettiest, and one that has fond memories for me. The trees along that road form arches over it, creating a forested tunnel of sorts. Late afternoon sunlight in the Summer and Fall creates beautiful effects. The road passes under an old, disused bridge not far from Middle Road and through a tunnel near the Sans Souci Parkway. My grandfather used to take us for rides in his blue Dodge Dart along that road, and would always beep the horn as we passed through the tunnel - something I still do once in a while.
Nanticoke is fairly tightly-packed. Its boundaries enclose a lot of houses, some schools, Luzerne County Community College, a supermarket and some shops, some river flood plain, and a historical relic called Concrete City. It had an industrial park put in once upon a time, but no industry actually moved into it, and it now is simply a long access road that leads to some houses that are technically outside of the city limits. But the map above shows several spots just to the east of the city that have been stripped of trees. These look to be new industrial parks being planned in Hanover Township. But what sort of industry will they bring? More warehouse and call center jobs paying $10 - $12 an hour?
|Map showing Nanticoke city boundaries and surrounding area|
|Three turning circles will be added at the intersections of Middle Road and Prospect, Espy, and Kosciuszko Streets|
Times Leader: Road closures for the South Valley Parkway in Nanticoke and Hanover Township to begin in April (February 17, 2016)
• Espy Street closed from April to August 2016 (reopened December 2, 2016)
SEE MARCH 30, 2017 UPDATE FOR REVISIONS
UPDATE, March 30, 2017:
• Middle Road, from Kosciuszko Street to Dundee Road will be closed to all traffic, beginning on Monday, April 3rd. This closure and related detours will be in place until November 2017
• Kosciuszko Street will be closed July 6, 2017 and be reopened in November 2017.
(As of January 20, 2018, Kosciuszko Street is still closed at Middle Road, and Middle Road is closed from Birchwood - accessible only from Middle Road coming east from Espy Street - to Spencer Lane / Great Valley Boulevard.)
• Prospect Street will be closed in the summer of 2018 and reopen in November 2018.
• Middle Road west of Koscuizsko Street closed September 2017 to August 2019
• Middle Road at exit 2 over state Route 29, closed August to October 2019
|Dundee Crossing Road, closed May 2016 through May 2019|
All this is just at the initial stages. Some construction has taken place already, taking advantage of the unusually warm Winter we've enjoyed until recently. But projects like this can easily take much longer than the original timeline indicates. As with many things, we'll have to wait and see how things work out.
UPDATE, February 26, 2016: Dundee Road is now closed. More than two months ahead of schedule.
UPDATE, March 9, 2016: The Larmel Inn at the corner of Espy Street and Middle Road has been torn down.
UPDATE, March 29, 2016: There is a detour in place for Espy Street, which is now closed to through traffic.
UPDATE, April 1, 2016: Middle Road will be closed at Espy Street starting April 4. This closure is scheduled to last through September.
UPDATE, December 8, 2016: The roundabout on Middle Road and Espy Street opened on December 2, 2016. (The original schedule stated it would be closed through August 2016. A later schedule put it at October 2016.) Next phase of construction on Middle Road should begin in March 2017 when the Prospect Street project begins.
UPDATE, March 30, 2017: Kosciuszko Street detour is in place. Revised schedule per this article:
• Middle Road will be closed and a detour will be in place beginning April 3. The road will reopen in November.
• Kosciuszko Street will be closed July 6 and be reopened in November.
• Prospect Street will be closed in the summer of 2018 and reopen in November 2018.
From the article:
Utility work on Kosciuszko Street will slow traffic this week, and Luzerne County Community College posted on Facebook that Middle Road will be closed to traffic due to construction of a roundabout.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notified the college that Middle Road will be closed from Kosciuszko Street to the Lower Askam section of Hanover Township as early as April 3, according to the post.From LCCC's Facebook page:
IMPORTANT ADVISORY: MIDDLE ROAD CLOSING THIS MONDAY
Please be advised that Middle Road, from Kosciuszko Street to Dundee Road will be closed to all traffic, beginning on Monday, April 3rd. This closure and related detours will be in place until November of 2017 as part of the construction of the new South Valley Parkway.
UPDATE, November 11, 2017: Dundee Road is open again. There have been changes. There are a lot fewer trees than there used to be, there are now two overpasses where there was once one, and one old disused railroad bridge has been removed. I'm glad I got some photos when I did.
|This old bridge, shown in a photograph from October 20, 2016, is now gone. Glad I got some photos of it when I did. A lot of the trees around it seem to be gone, too, but these will regrow in time.|
UPDATE, January 20, 2018: From the Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice: Section of South Valley Parkway will open Monday
Part of the South Valley Parkway in Hanover Twp. will open at 11 a.m. Monday (January 22, 2018.)
The section to open occupies a stretch of land northwest of the South Cross Valley Expressway/state Route 29.
It runs from a connection off of South Main Street near Exit 2 of the expressway to a newly constructed roundabout west of there. Two ramps near that roundabout connect to the South Cross Valley Expressway between exits 2 and 3.
Further west of that roundabout, one lane of traffic will be open on a bridge over the expressway and Dundee Road, leading to another roundabout.
The planned roadway continues to Middle Road and Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke, but that section remains under construction. It is scheduled to open sometime in 2019, spokesman Mike Taluto said.Update, February 14, 2018: The Kosciuszko Street turning circle is partially open, allowing access to Birchwood Nursing Home and Middle Road west to Espy Street and beyond. Middle Road east is still inaccessible. However, signs still indicate that the road is closed, detours are still in place, and signs from Espy Street indicate "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY."