PennDOT to Host In-Person Public Meeting

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Engineering District 4-0, will present preliminary plans to the public for the Interstate 81 (I-81) Reconstruction Project at a plans display meeting on February 15, 2023, from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Dunmore Elementary Center gym at 300 West Warren Street in Dunmore, Lackawanna County. Attendees can learn about the planned improvements to roadway surfaces, structures, interchanges, and future traffic flow on the seven-mile stretch of I-81 between Exit 178 in Avoca and Exit 185 in Scranton. The public is invited to submit their feedback and questions at the meeting, by mail, or online throughout the comment period, which extends from February 15 to March 15, 2023.

PennDOT will deliver a formal presentation and host a question-and-answer session during the meeting at 6:00 PM. An informational video illustrating the final condition of the highway will also be available. During the comment period, digital copies of the project plans, the project video, and a comment form will be available for the public to view on the project webpage, which can be found on the PennDOT Engineering District 4-0 website at https://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-4/PublicMeetings/Pages/default.aspx. Click on the Lackawanna County box, then choose the tile marked “SR 81 (Interstate 81) Section D46 (Avoca to Scranton) Reconstruction Project”.

The project area begins at the northern end of the existing Avoca Interchange (Exit 178) and includes the Moosic Interchange (Exit 180), Davis Street Interchange (Exit 182), and River Street and President Biden Expressway Interchange (Exit 184 and 185).

“Our main goal is to reduce the frequency of crashes and traffic congestion along this corridor,” said Richard N. Roman, P.E., District Executive for PennDOT Engineering District 4-0. “We’re planning to widen the highway from two lanes to three lanes and improve the location of exits, as well as correct issues with roadway curves and lanes. These upgrades will improve the driving experience once the project is complete.”

The proposed design calls for the removal of left-hand exits and standardizes roadway curves and lane widths. The new roadway will widen into the existing median and, upon completion, will include three 12-foot travel lanes and two 12-foot shoulders in both directions. Traffic along the new highway should flow freely based on predicted vehicle usage data for the year 2055 (or about twenty years post-construction) developed for traffic studies.

PennDOT also studied various environmental and historic factors while developing the preliminary roadway designs. These factors included (but are not limited to) socio-economic features, waterways and wetlands, historic properties, and waste concerns. Overall, the design avoids impacts to most of the identified environmental and historic resources in the project area. 

The I-81 Reconstruction Project (Avoca to Scranton) is just one of six highway improvement projects in the region that are advancing through design or construction under the direction of PennDOT and/or the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. In-depth planning and design work for the SR 81, D46 project is still underway and will continue through the end of 2027.

“Because we are in the early stages of this complex project, construction isn’t expected to start until Spring 2028,” Roman said. During construction, PennDOT will maintain two lanes of traffic in both directions.

In total, the planned improvements are estimated at $500 million.

The project documents can be made available in alternative languages or formats if requested. If you need translation/interpretation services, have special needs or concerns that require individual attention, or would like to submit a general question or comment, please contact the project team at I81Reconstruction@aecom.com

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, PennDOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. If you feel that you have been denied the benefits of, or participation in a PennDOT program or activity, you may contact the PennDOT, Bureau of Equal Opportunity, DBE/Title VI Division at 717-787-5891.

Motorists can check conditions on major roadway miles by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

Subscribe to PennDOT news and traffic alerts in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties at www.penndot.gov/District4.

Information about infrastructure in District 4, including completed work and significant projects, is available at www.penndot.gov/D4Results.

Follow local PennDOT news on Twitter and like the department on Facebook and Instagram.

The Wright Center, Kolcharno Presents at Meeting

Maria Kolcharno, LSW, director of addiction services and leader of the Healthy Maternal Opiate Medical Support (MOMS) program at The Wright Center for Community Health, recently outlined the novel program to participants at the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative Virtual Meeting.

Kolcharno addressed the importance of collaborative relationships for making referrals and establishing communication pathways between OB/GYN and medication-assisted treatment providers to coordinate patient care for mothers with substance use disorder.

“In 2016, The Wright Center began a journey to offer opiate use disorder treatment. When it started, there was a large influx of pregnant women with substance use disorder coming into the program,” Kolcharno said. “Our leadership team looked at how we can better serve people who have so many needs. They were not coming in just for counseling. They were experiencing food insecurity, lack of safe housing, and they weren’t receiving the medical care they needed. Our Healthy MOMS program grew from the needs of the women in our community.”

During the event’s breakout session, Kolcharno provided workflow charts to assist organizations looking to replicate the relationships and processes the Healthy MOMS program has established with maternity care times and medical Centers of Excellence.

Part of that process involved visiting birth hospitals to meet with labor and delivery nurses and doctors to introduce them to the Healthy MOMS program. “The biggest part was talking about the stigma of being a mother with a substance use disorder and being pregnant. It’s two things people never want to hear together – pregnant and addicted to a substance,” said Kolcharno.

The labor and delivery staffs were open about their feelings for treating the patient population and the ways in which they can offer support to the new mothers. Out of these conversations, a small, but effective tool, was designed by providers: A Healthy MOMS pin. According to Kolcharno, when mothers in the program see the pin, they know the nurses are an extension of the Healthy MOMS program that has become an integral part of their lives.

Part of The Wright Center’s Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence, the Healthy MOMS program was co-founded with multiple agencies to assist women who are pregnant and have a substance use disorder. Healthy MOMS provides prenatal, perinatal, and postpartum care, including medication-assisted treatment to women coping with a substance use disorder, and strives to break the stigma associated with the disorder while building their self-esteem during and after their pregnancies, ideally engaging them in recovery support services. Currently there are 142 mothers active in the program, with 206 babies born through the program. Since its founding, more than 300 mothers have participated in the program.

The Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative includes more than 60 birthing hospitals and newborn intensive care units and over 10 health plans across the state. Overall, the organization works to reduce maternal mortality and improve care for pregnant and postpartum women and newborns affected by opioids.

For more information about the Healthy MOMS program, call 570-995-7821 or text healthymoms to 555888. Information about the program and its partners is also available at healthymoms.org. Go to thewrightcenter.org/services for information about the Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence.

North Main Projects Virtual Plans Displays and Public Meeting

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), announces Online Plans Displays and a Virtual Public Meeting for the North Main Avenue Bridge Replacement Project over Leggetts Creek and the Parker Street Bridge Replacement Project over the Lackawanna River in the City of Scranton, Lackawanna County.

In accordance with Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the comment period and public meeting will be held online only. The comment period will be open from June 3rd to July 3rd, 2021.

The virtual plans display for each bridge project includes digital picture boards and an online comment form. The plans displays can be accessed by visiting the PennDOT District 4 Website: www.pennDOT.gov/regionaloffices/district-4/, clicking on Public Meetings under District Links, choosing the tile for Lackawanna County and then selecting the tile for North Main Avenue Bridge or Parker Street Bridge. The purpose of the plans displays is to introduce the projects and receive public input regarding any questions or concerns with the projects. It is also an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the projects’ potential effects upon Cultural Resources pursuant to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s 36 CFR Part 800 regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

A public meeting for the two bridge projects will be held on June 17th, 2021 virtually via Microsoft Teams. The public meeting will begin at 6:00 PM and registration is required. To register, contact Jessica Ruddy, Community Relations Coordinator at jeruddy@pa.gov or at 570.963.4044. Persons requesting language or hearing assistance may contact Jessica Ruddy at the contact information provided above. Requests should be made at least five business days prior to the public meeting. 

Those unable to access the project information online may give feedback by contacting PennDOT Project Manager Summer Koziel, at skoziel@pa.gov or 570.963.4048.