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Revamped interstate interchange could fuel economic development in Monroe

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Roadwork could alleviate a treacherous interchange in northern Monroe County and later bring economic activity to the site.

Sen. Mario Scavello (Monroe, Northampton counties) said the project involves moving the southbound Exit 3 ramp onto Route 940 Interstate 380 in Tobyhanna Township and shifting it to another spot that allows for better access for motorists. The project includes bringing water and sewer lines to the site, installing a traffic light and adding other infrastructure.

The project also entails closing the ramp for Exit 3 once workers build the new ramp and line it up with Long Pond Road.

Currently, motorists heading off Exit 3 onto Route 940 have to make a left turn through two lanes of traffic to head east on Route 940.

Thousands of vehicles exit the I-380 southbound Exit 3 ramp each day, township officials said.

“There’s nothing there to help trucks,” Scavello said. “This is the most dangerous area. and it’s gridlocked.”

The plan includes widening Route 940 to two lanes in either direction and also involves moving the entrance to Stillwater Estates, a community of about 200 homes, and lining it up with FedEx Drive and Route 940, near an Enterprise Rent-A-Car business and FedEx Freight, plus adding a traffic signal. The overall project would allow for additional turning lanes.

“This will make the area much safer,” Scavello said. “The roadwork needs to be done. This is to fix an existing problem in the community. The traffic is unbearable.”

STATE FUNDING

Scavello said Tobyhanna Township has been working for three years to get grants to help pay for the project.

The work should cost about $5.5 million. So far, the township secured more than $3 million in state grants, said John Jablowski, township manager.

The township is asking for $2.2 million more in state grants to fund the project.

“We’ve been very encouraged by the support from PennDOT,” Jablowski said of the state Department of Transportation. “I know it’s been in discussion for many years, so it’s really come to fruition over the past year-and-a-half or so.”

He anticipated a spring construction start next year, with a one-year work schedule.

“Right now, there’s a failing intersection,” Jablowski said.

POTENTIALLY 150 MORE JOBS

The site has the potential to bring 150 new jobs with the addition of new commercial and retail businesses, he said. The township is talking with developers to create conceptual designs, though nothing is official, Jablowski said.

The area near the interchange has potential for hotels, restaurants and a village-type atmosphere that includes a bike lane on Route 940 and streetscape enhancements.

Plans are also in the works to build a hotel on the other side of Route 940, across from an Exxon gas station, and possibly another hotel nearby, Scavello said.

The project could increase public safety, create a new intersection and improve access, Jablowski said.

“That $5.5 million is going to help set a positive tone in creating a village atmosphere,” he said.

Furthermore, this roadwork could aid the start of construction on the nearby Ripley’s Aquarium project, planned to go up next to Kalahari Resorts on the other side of I-380, also in the township.

“We are in discussions [with the developer] as well, and are fairly confident the project would be moving ahead,” Jablowski said.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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