The traffic detour around Route 209 in Tamaqua for a bridge construction project began this weekend and will occur every weekend for the next year or more.

Since it's going to be a long-term detour, some things should be done by PennDOT and borough officials to make it as safe as possible.

Much of the traffic was rerouted through Lansford and Summit Hill. For some 45-foot tractor-trailer combinations, the turn was pretty difficult from Route 209 in Lansford onto Route 902 toward Summit Hill.

Although there are orange signs directing motorists on the detour route, there isn't enough notice given them to explain how steep and winding the Route 209 hills are between Summit Hill and White Bear and between Bugzy's and Mahoning Township. Although the speed limit for much of the roadway is 45 mph for cars, trucks descending the hill that fast are sure to get into trouble in the curves they encounter. Maybe a truck speed should be established on those hills.

The detours either are through Summit Hill as explained above or over the Wild Cat Mountain in West Penn Township. Hopefully, PennDOT is prepared to make these two hills a priority for winter maintenance.

We understand the need for the detours. It's just that there doesn't appear to have been enough planning. The detour signs don't look official. They look like something slapped together at the last minute even though the project was in the planning phase for a long time.

Hopefully PennDOT officials will travel the detour routes before next weekend and improve the signage.

Should a tractor-trailer lose control in one of the detour curves, the result could not only make the detour even more frustrating with longer waits, but also prove to be tragic.

Hopefully, police officers will patrol the detour route, too, to make sure drivers are obeying speed limits and traffic signs. Until this summer, there had been lines at the bottom of Bugzy's Hill in Summit Hill where police often set up speed traps. The lines have disappeared and haven't been replaced.

Did someone tell borough workers not to replace these lines on the highway? Was it just an oversight of the borough officials?

Either way, these lines should be put back down and police should utilize their ESP machines to keep traffic in check.

Hopefully safety features are established before something very bad happens.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]