Maintenance.

It's something that's often done to prevent future problems. It's something that's usually done when fixable problems develop.

It seems that PennDOT sometimes waits too long to do some of its maintenance work.

For example, it took over a year to fix a problem along Route 443 in Mahoning Township near Carbon Plaza in which barriers made the road narrow. The barriers were needed because some sinking was feared along the two-lane highway's shoulder.

For a long 12 months, a dangerous sitution existed due to those barriers.

Another pressing problem is the Broad Mountain truck runoff just a short distance from the busy Route 93 and 209 intersection in Nesquehoning.

The runoff got damaged from heavy rains a few weeks ago. Washout occurred and barrels were placed at the entry of the runoff to close it.

The runoff had been constructed because over the years there were numerous accidents in which large trucks lost their brakes on the Broad Mountain. In most cases, the trucks overturned at the Route 93 and 209 accident - an intersection which has heavy traffic volume including a lot of bus traffic.

PennDOT can't afford to delay repairs to the runoff. It's a vital safety mechanism. PennDOT can't wait for a serious accident - possibly a fatal one - occurs before repairs happen.

We're obviously not engineers or contractors, but it seems that some bulldozer activity could create at least temporary workable restoration of the runoff.

The Route 93 hill is a curvy one with steep embankments. A truck losing its brakes on that hill becomes a deadly weapon.

And, speaking of PennDOT maintenance, there's an issue in Lehighton which has some people complaining. There are cones placed on both sides of the Ninth Street bridge, but there's no construction or maintenance activity. The cones have been there for a long time.

It seems that when cones or placed on a roadway, essentially preventing parking and taking away a lane of traffic, that motorists should be informed why it's occurring. Further, if the work isn't going to be done for a long time, then either more secure safety measures have to occur or workers should wait until the work is occurring to put cones at the site.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com