Huge I-80 project to avoid seizing homes


STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WOLF) -- In Monroe County, PennDOT says it's pushing back a hearing on Interstate 80 expansion from next month to the spring, as they refine their plans.

A state senator says the six-lane proposal could have taken about 60 homes, but now it may be just four properties. We have more on the options.

The owner at Rootin' Tootin' Hot Dogs says he thought his business of three years would not be seized to make way for the expanded highway.

"It's taken them years just to change the overpasses that this project would take, and they don't have all the overpasses taken yet, so we've still got a long time," says hot dog shop owner Brian Crawford.

But on Friday, State Senator Mario Scavello said the latest plan would eliminate the hot dog shop, a gas station, and a Perkins restaurant which could re-build in its own parking lot. Crawford says he could move.

"It's an easy little one-story building with no basement. It's not like the Perkins, which would be impossible to move," says Crawford.

"Those basins are no longer there. Those takes are not gonna happen," says Scavello, pointing to a map of a neighborhood off Pokona Avenue which he says is now safe.

Scavello says homes on Lenox and Colbert Streets, and a slate/marble business won't be taken either.

He's been urging penndot not to seize homes that would have been taken merely for drainage basins to catch water runoff.

Now, Scavello says they're planning to put some drainage into the middle of exit loops, and PennDOT spokesman Ron Young says they could put up retaining walls, instead of slopes where water would drain off.

The sentator tells us one option is a six-lane expansion with a narrow shoulder in the congested area.

Another option is having a four-lane road with a special wide shoulder that could turn into an extra lane during high traffic times.

Scavello prefers this option to keep speeding down. It's also called "hard shoulder running."

"If there's a problem on I-80, rather than back up two lanes, they'll be able to go into that lane," says Scavello.

Whether four or six lanes, Scavello says the project will cost the same, about $500 million. It could start in 2022 and be done by 2025 to 2027 and cost up to $600 million, Young said.

"It's constantly roadwork and the lanes are closed, so I think it would help the congestion. It seems overcrowded," says Jeff Crowell from Stroudsburg.

"The six lanes, he was right, because more people are moving up here," says Corey Carter from Effort. "You just need more lanes."

Scavello says three homes and a business could still be taken in the Tanite Road area off Route 209, but that drainage area may be eliminated too.

A citizens group called the I-80 Project Impact task force says it's glad to hear their homes won't be taken, and is still waiting to hear more from PennDOT.

Meantime, Scavello says if any money is saved on the project it could be used to extend the road work further west to Bartonsville. Eventually, they hope to get to Scotrun, where there's already a short six-lane stretch.

Scavello says if any money is saved on the project it could be used to extend the lanes further west to Bartonsville. Eventually they hope to get to Scotrun where there's already a short six lane stretch.

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