Several months ago, a major highway improvement project occurred from downtown Jim Thorpe to the Route 443 intersection in Lehighton. The resurfacing of Route 209 was done with federal stimulus money.
Unfortunately, the work didn't solve a major drainage problem on the Mansion House Hill that descends into Jim Thorpe. In fact, some motorists who travel the route regularly insist the drainage problem has gotten worse since the construction occurred.
Virtually every night since the freezing weather arrived PennDOT crews have had to put anti-skid material on the hill; especially on the lanes headed from Jim Thorpe toward Mahoning Township.
Poor drainage which creates wetness on road surfaces, and sometimes even ponding, is a major winter woe for drivers when freezing occurs.
Another bad location is Route 902 between White Bear and Summit Hill proper. A year or two ago major road work occurred on this hill. Since then, it seems that the slippery surface due to poor drainage near the top of the hill has become more of a problem than before the work was done. In the past week there were numerous accidents on the hill caused by freezing, including an overturned SUV.
Another place where poor drainage is a cause for concern of motorists is on Route 54 in Hauto.
We all know of situations where drainage isn't the best; where winter accidents are frequent. Like the Route 209 Wash Shanty Curve in Nesquehoning, for instance.
Engineers and work crews should give drainage as much attention as they give potholes. While potholes are more notorious for destroying tires and wheel alignment, the drainage situations cause many accidents especially in winter but also in non-freezing weather when hydro-planing is possible.
Can improvements occur on the Mansion House Hill, on the White Bear Hill, or other problem areas?
Especially where recent road work was done, there should be a way that the contractors could be held responsible for making these areas safer for motorists.
By Ron Gower