Reprinted with permission
After month, Rt. 940 opens
The Standard-Speaker (standardspeaker.com)
By KENT JACKSON, Staff Writer
Friday, 16 May 2008
State Route 940 reopened in Drifton at 3 p.m. Thursday after being closed for more than a month by a mine subsidence.
With the road reopened, motorists no longer have to take detours when driving between Hazleton and Freeland.
Residents of the Drifton Estates, however, wonder if releasing traffic onto the road will shake the unstable ground that gave way on April 9 and damaged two homes in their development.
The road reopened three weeks ahead of schedule after general contractor Minichi Construction worked quickly to fill mine voids. On Thursday morning, subcontractor Barletta Construction milled and repaved a short section of the road from the Drifton Post Office to Smith Drive, which is the entrance to Drifton Estates. Then a contractor repainted lines on the road in time to reopen for afternoon commuters.
One day next week, crews will return to paint “slow down” advisories on the pavement near the curve east of Smith Drive, but the road will stay open for that work, according to the state Department of Transportation.
PennDOT closed the road from the post office to Windy Hill Road to protect motorists and a natural gas line that runs beneath the road.
While no holes opened in the pavement, PennDOT’s engineers concluded that a chamber 15 feet deep was beneath one lane of the highway.
PennDOT hired Minichi for $202,000 to drill exploratory holes through the road and then fill the void. By sinking a camera through the holes, workers were able to determine dimensions of the void. The drill operator also noted when he was boring through rock, loose rock and when he hit a cavity, which added to the knowledge of what was underground.
Opening the road marks the end of the second of three projects planned at Drifton.
After the subsidence opened, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining awarded emergency contracts for $150,000 to excavate and fill holes that opened around two homes. During that work, a void was discovered beneath the highway and in the right-of-way, which is PennDOT’s responsibility to maintain.
In the third project, which the federal mining office plans to award after Memorial Day, a contractor will drill more holes and add fill around one of the damaged homes, owned by Robert and Margaret Pecile at 2 Smith Drive.
The Peciles want to repair their house and move back in.
They have no guarantee that the ground won’t shift again and damage their house once more, but they don’t want to walk away from their investment in the home.
Their neighbors, Joseph and Joan O’Day, have insurance against mine subsidence and plan to use their insurance settlement to relocate.
Standard homeowner’s policies don’t cover mine subsidence, so the state sells insurance against subsidence.