By Kaylee Lindenmuth
FRACKVILLE - PennDOT recently revealed plans to reconstruct PA Route 61 between Frackville and Saint Clair beginning in 2021, at a hefty cost of $65 Million.
"[The project] involves the total reconstruction of the northbound and southbound travel lanes between St. Clair Borough and Frackville Borough (4.5 miles)," the project synopsis distributed by PennDOT said. "The total reconstruction involves the replacement of the existing pavement, shoulder, drainage, guide rail, pavement markings and signing. Other project features include the realignment of Route 61 in three location to eliminate tight curves, widening to provide for a consistent 8 foot right shoulder and the repair or replacement of nine structures and various retaining walls."
A digital visualization, by Traffic Planning and Design Inc., was also distributed which shows the projects plan from beginning to end.
The visualization shows a general widening of the roadway on both sides with an additional shoulder, keeping mostly to the same path, except on the southbound side in the area of "dead man's curve," and at the "S" curves.
A second northbound through lane will be added at the Darkwater intersection as well.
An timeline of the project:
Pre-Stage: Shoulder Restoration required, will take place between June and November. Construct retaining wall along NB direction, will be built from June to December. Tree clearing required to occur from December to March. Place erosion control measures as required.
Stage 1: Begin long-term single lane pattern. In southern section, SB lanes to be reconstructed. In bifurcated section, SB lanes shut down for rock blasting/rock waste area. In northern section, widening and ramp tie-in work to begin.
Winter Shutdown: Roadway must be restored to allow 2 travel lanes in each direction, including re-opening of SB bifurcated lanes.
Stage 2: Return to long-term single lane pattern. In southern section, middle portion of roadway to be reconstructed. In bifurcated section, SB lanes shut down for roadway reconstruction and realignment of substandard curves. In northern section, continue widening and ramp tie-in work.
Winter Shutdown: Roadway must be restored to allow 2 travel lanes in each direction. SB bifurcated section will be fully reconstructed.
Stage 3: Return to long-term single lane pattern. In southern section, NB lanes to be reconstructed, including required retaining walls and scour protection along stream. In bifurcated section, NB lanes shut down for roadway reconstruction. In northern section, construct middle section of roadway including barrier
Winter Shutdown: Project substantially complete. All lanes to reopen, and provide two lanes of travel in each direction.
Stage 4: Final project items include final paving surface and pavement markings. Construction completed using short-term traffic control.
Turning lanes are also set to be added at the entrances to Altamont Boulevard and the Schuylkill Technology Center's North Campus.
According to PennDOT, no structures will be demolished in the project.
As the project progresses, traffic may be diverted to either the northbound or southbound side of the highway, though all lanes will be open in the wintertime.