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Blythedale 'relief' on the way

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 4:11 a.m.
SJB Services contractors Stephen and Steve Wolkiewicz take soil samples along a troubled section of Blythedale Road in Elizabeth Township. 
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
SJB Services contractors Stephen and Steve Wolkiewicz take soil samples along a troubled section of Blythedale Road in Elizabeth Township. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
This section of Blythedale Road in Elizabeth Township has been restricted to one lane due to mine subsidence.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
This section of Blythedale Road in Elizabeth Township has been restricted to one lane due to mine subsidence. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

Motorists who regularly travel Blythedale Road in Elizabeth Township have gotten used to the stop signs bookending a section of the roadway that is restricted to a single lane because of mine subsidence.

When drivers reach either end of the subsiding roadway, they must stop until the inner lane closest to the hillside is clear before proceeding with their journey.

The state road has been that way for years but now PennDOT says relief should soon be on its way.

While no specific timeline has been established yet for repairs, PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said construction work should begin sometime this spring or summer.

Struzzi said remediation work will include addressing landslides and problems related to mine voids under the roadway. Work is expected to include buttresses and other embankment support to prevent landslides.

There have been repairs to the roadway in the past but no in-depth construction work.

“We're still in the preliminary stages of designing it,” Struzzi said.

This week, SJB Services of Hanover, N.Y., completed several weeks of soil sampling work for PennDOT. A company employee said crews bored five holes — two on the hillside above the road and three below the road toward the Youghiogheny River — 22 to 45 feet in depth to collect samples of the geological structure around the road. Employees noted there was much coal in the area.

Elizabeth Township commissioner Claire Bryce said repairs must be made before the road's condition worsens.

“If this road closes down, how are residents going to get in and out of Blythedale?” she asked, noting that an alternate route on Nichols Hill Road also is in bad condition. She said the single-lane restriction also puts first responders at a potential disadvantage when responding to emergencies.

“The road obviously needs to get fixed for the betterment of the community,” Bryce said.

The problematic section of the road is on the north end of Blythedale, located between Shaler Street and the intersection with Fallen Timber Road.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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