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Business owner feeling the sting from road closure project

Published July 06. 2019 06:29AM

A Lehighton business owner says she’s experienced a downtick at her candy shop, which she believes is the result of the Jim Thorpe road closure project.

Jennifer Solt-Cerato, owner of Jenny’s Sweets and More at 114 S. First St., told borough council on Monday that her business has plummeted since the project has been underway.

Solt-Cerato said that from the time she opened her business in the winter until Easter, her business was fantastic.

But, since May, Solt-Cerato said business has been down, not just at her shop, but others along First Street as well.

“The detour is taking Lehighton traffic out of town,” Solt-Cerato said. “You’re not even getting to our town; that’s why my business is down.”

Solt-Cerato then asked if any potential signs could be put up near the bypass to make motorists aware of the businesses along the downtown.

Borough Manager Nicole Beckett said council could look into some signs that would be worked on this month, noting the length of the project.

“We’re looking at at least another year,” Beckett said. “I think we could do it pretty cost effectively.”

Kathy Henderson, director of Economic Development at the Carbon Chamber Economic Development Corp., said the borough isn’t the only local municipality feeling the pinch.

“Jim Thorpe businesses are really being hit hard,” Henderson said. “So, Lehighton is not the only town that’s suffering.”

The Mansion House Hill (Route 209) near Jim Thorpe is open all this week as part of a scheduled break in a construction project, which has caused the road to be closed on weekdays.

Crews have been working since May to stabilize the rock wall and prevent rock slides. The $3.5 million project is estimated to continue through May 2020.

During construction, contractors have been closing all lanes of Route 209 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The road closures are required for safety during rock scaling, vegetation removal and cleaning, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

At all other times, one lane of Route 209 northbound, located closest to the rock wall, remains closed throughout the project.

The contractor for the project is Road-Con. As part of their contract, the road is scheduled to remain open on weekdays around some major holidays.

The Mansion House Hill will be closed 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. all weekdays except the following dates:

• July 2-6 (Independence Day)

• Aug. 31 and Sept. 2 (Labor Day)

• Oct. 14 (Columbus Day)

• Nov. 27-29 (Thanksgiving)

• Dec. 21-Jan. 3 (Christmas/New Year’s)

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