By David Mazzenga
HONESDALE—More extensive details regarding the repair to Route 170 were given out at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting held at the end of last month.
As earlier reported, the recent repair rebuilt a section of road knocked out by an ice jam in January this year, elevating the roadway in the area where flooding is common.
Demonstrating the root of the problem, PennDOT Wayne County Maintenance Manager Mitchell Simon explained there's a bend in the Lackawaxen river where the water routinely jumps the bank.
“It's been doing it for about four or five years,” he said.
In discussing possible solutions with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP), Simon explained there was a possibility of working with the environmental agency and splitting costs to address the river's flow, engineering places around the bends where the water would swirl, pool, and serve as a place for fish to spawn.
“We don't own that property,” said Simon. “We would have to get the property, we would have to get DEP to issue a permit. We'd have to get everybody on board.”
Discussions persisted for some time, delaying the repair, said Simon, but ultimately a joint effort to redirect the river at this time fell through as DEP had other projects to which they needed attend.
Complicating the matter further, Simon noted the property owner of the land in question changed during the course of the discussions.
Other potential solution involved grading the land on the opposite side of the river in an attempt to direct water flow there and away from the road, or digging a large ditch on the property adjacent to the road to catch excess water.
As of the CAB meeting, the agreements with the new landowner had not been reached to modify the property.
Simon noted attending the structure itself is all PennDOT can do, as it and the roadway are the only properties there they own.
He explained of the repairs made as of the meeting, “We built the road, in its lowest spots, three feet high,” and lined it with large rocks to armor the sides.
Simon noted rock armoring, “Isn't the perfect solution,” but that he hoped it would provide strength to the area for at least a decade.
He reported the structure is holding at the moment, but repeated flows of water are “... wreaking havoc on our abutment wall.”
Future solutions looking to rework the river flow are still being discussed, said Simon.
Present at the CAB meeting, Wayne Conservation District Resource Conservationist, David Mitchell explained the remnants of an overflow channel exist near a sharp bend in the river next to the roadway.
He mentioned the route had been discussed as a potential solution in the past but nothing had come to fruition.
Seeking to utilize it as a new route would need the permission of several landowners, said Mitchell.
He also noted other past ideas to redirect the river included creations of veins and weirs to force the water back to the river center similarly to what was proposed for this fix as well.
“It's a bunch of factors that come into play and a bunch of experts with ideas, and they all work but they don't work,” said Mitchell.
“The big factor with streams is convincing them to change direction,” he later stated. “And it's just hard. That's an area where there's a lot of force coming down that stream and then you have a very sharp bend and it just doesn't like to bend.”