Closure means longer commutes for some area residents

Last updated: January 25. 2014 12:14AM - 2367 Views
By - tkellar@civitasmedia.com

A large bubble formed in roadway on state Route 437.
A large bubble formed in roadway on state Route 437.
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DENNISON TWP. — A mile-long stretch of Route 437 — a main artery between Mountain Top and White Haven — will be closed indefinitely due to a section of the roadway buckling.

As a result, commuters face a number of traffic woes navigating detours to get around the stretch of roadway.

PennDOT said both directions of Route 437 from the intersection at Barrys Road to the intersection of Tunnel Road are closed and posted. Spokesman James May said a hydraulic push underneath the roadway is the cause of the buckle.

Water underneath the road froze, causing it to expand and physically lift the roadway, he said.

As a result, a bubble formed in the roadway that has forced the road to close. May estimated it to be 6 feet across, 12 feet wide and about 2 feet high.

“It’s common to have this happen a little bit,” May said, adding that it is more common in higher elevations. “To have one that’s this large is very unusual.”

May said there is a creek nearby, but did not believe that it had a direct cause on the pavement buckling. Conety Run is near the proximity of where the bubble is in the roadway.

He said there is no timetable as to when the roadway will be reopened. Crews will have to wait until the ground thaws to determine the cause of the water.

With a cold snap currently gripping the region, May said it could take “a number of days, if not weeks.”

Traffic woes

The massive bubble has created a number of detours to bypass the stretch of roadway. One takes commuters up Tunnel Road and back down on Barrys Road, a little over four miles to bypass a one-mile stretch. Michael Taluto, spokesman for PennDOT, said the average daily traffic for Route 437 is 3,242 vehicles in both directions.

Randy Hockman had used Route 434 regularly before it was closed. Hockman, 57, is an agent with Coldwell Banker Town & Country Properties.

“It makes my commute real long,” Hockman said. “I have to figure out which direction I’m going, so which detour I have to take.”

Despite the closure, it was business as usual for Mary Cerski, owner of Mary Cerski Hair Zone. Though her business is on Pine Run Road and further away from Route 437, Cerski said customers that would normally have come that way have not needed to come to salon yet.

The closure, she said, has made it a longer for her husband’s commute to Lake Francis in Nescopeck State Park to go ice fishing.

Commuters and businesses are not the only ones to feel the effects of the road closure.

Dave McLaughlin-Smith, superintendent of Crestwood School District, said buses coming from White Haven have had to be rerouted as a result of the closure. The district has also altered its bus schedule.

“We would typically contact PennDOT or local road management for details of any closure and adjust accordingly,” McLaughlin-Smith said.

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