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Mansion House project to continue through the holiday season

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    Crews continue work recently on a rock remediation project along the Mansion House Hill between Lehighton and Jim Thorpe. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published December 06. 2019 12:12PM

Only inclement weather and Santa Claus will stop the Mansion House Hill rock remediation project over the holiday season.

Ron Young, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman, said Wednesday there would not be a complete stoppage of operations over the winter.

“The only ‘winter’ stoppages will be when there are inclement weather conditions that prevent the workers to safely perform their work,” Young said. “There will be a suspension of operations (and the daily closures) over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays (Dec. 23 to Jan. 2).”

During those holiday periods, the regular weekday 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. closure of Route 209, between Lehighton and Jim Thorpe, will not be in effect.

Road-Con, of West Chester, has been in charge of the $3.55 million project, which began in the spring. Ameritech Slope Contractors, one of the only companies in the country that handles this type of work, is performing the rock scaling operation.

“So far, the contractor has put in 640 of the 700 rock anchors that need to be installed,” said Calvin Ulshafer, who is in charge of the project for PennDOT. “To have about 60 left to do at this point, I think things are moving along nicely. There is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

In addition to the anchors, crews are at the halfway point of hanging the mesh that is necessary along the wall.

PennDOT officials, at the start of the project, said a number of fracture zones in the rock needed to be checked. All of the fractures were investigated to determine whether or not the rock there needs to come down.

When the rock faults are finished and everything is secured, Ulshafer said, crews can get off the road and work will turn to curbing and gutters in the spring.

“When the curb work starts, the road will open as a single lane condition,” he said. “I’d like to put a time out there on when the road will be open, but I just can’t do that at this point.”

In the meantime, PennDOT will monitor winter weather conditions to determine if crews will work that particular day.

“If it’s snowing, we want to keep the road open for plowing so there would be no restrictions that day,” Ulshafer said. “Other than that, the detour will only be lifted for the normal scheduled holiday break.”

As for the progress of the project, Ulshafer said things couldn’t be going smoother.

“I think we’re exceeding expectations,” he added. “There was some outcropping that had to be addressed early on, but other than that, there have been no issues. I think we’re well on our way to achieving the ultimate goal, which is contain to any rock movement in that area.”

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