Pa 611 reopens after six weeks of shutdown; make business leaders happy

PA 611 has reopened after a six-week shutdown to repair parts of a highway retaining wall that collapsed due to heavy rain.

Local businesses said the many detours had hurt them and were happy that the roadway had reopened.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation removed fallen material from the roadway, repaired several sections with fill material, and made repairs to the concrete where necessary. Construction also included resetting 500 barrier sections along the winding road.

The section of PA 611 that sustained damage in the April 7 rainstorm was between Mountain Road at Waring Drive and Slateford Road in the Delaware Water Gap Borough and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It was reopened to traffic on Thursday.

During the shutdown, traffic between Portland, Northampton County and Delaware Water Gap Borough, Monroe County was diverted onto PA 512, PA 33, US 209, Interstate 80 and Business Route 209.

Lauren Chandler, owner of Asparagus Sunshine in the Delaware Water Gap

Lauren Chamberlain, owner of Asparagus Sunshine in Delaware Water Gap, hosted a meeting with local business owners in Point of the Gap to spread the word that the causeway was now open.

Chamberlain said “there were no cars passing other than disgruntled people who didn’t know where the detour was or how to get around it”. She said the business owners are grateful to local officials Rosemary Brown and Mario Scavello, whose offices worked with the state DOT “to treat this as an emergency.”

Local business owners congregate at the tip of the Gap on the recently opened Pa 611 between the Delaware Water Gap and Portland.

Chamberlain said his business was down more than 85% during the road closure.

“I know that everyone in our surrounding area also suffered heavy losses,” she said. “It was such a roadblock, literally and figuratively.”

Portland Mayor Heather Fisher said after the long pandemic, businesses were preparing for recovery and then the road closure closed their main thoroughfare for tourist activity.

“It was just a bad time to lose that bridge between our communities and make it very difficult for tourists and our businesses in town,” Fisher said.

Edge of the Woods Outfitters offers river trips, bike rentals, group tours and adventure gear, located in the Delaware Water Gap.

Fisher said it hit his community especially hard, forcing people to detour off Interstate 80 and pay the toll. “Some of our businesses literally opened their doors before the pandemic and really struggled…they need and depend on Delaware tubers and kayakers.”

Susan Cooper, owner of the Village Farmer and Bakery in the Delaware Water Gap, said she was devastated when she thought PA 611 was going to be closed for the season. “Summer is what it’s all about here and now it’s opened just in time for the Memorial Day weekend vacation.”

The Village Farmer and Bakery at Delaware Water Gap

Steve Ertle, lounge manager at the Baymont Inn in Bartonsville, said the corridor between Portland and Delaware Water Gap is crucial for business. “Not only does it connect communities and tourism, but it is also the alternate emergency vehicle route for Interstate 80 traffic entering and exiting the Poconos. The time it takes for an ambulance to get to the places would increase considerably in the event of an accident or closure.

Ertle, who runs for the 189th District, said Route 80 sees more than 100,000 vehicles a day and that number spikes on summer and holiday weekends, including Memorial Day and weekends. end of race. Route 80, he said, “easily jams and overruns this section of PA-611. It’s an incredibly important artery for the Poconos.”

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