may reopen this week
One of the two retaining
walls installed along Route 225 on
Peters Mountain takes shape last week.
(Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation)
Route 225 over Peter’s
Mountain could be open in time to
accommodate Thanksgiving holiday and
‘‘Black Friday’’ traffic.
‘‘Our goal is to have the
road reopened to traffic by Wednesday
evening (Nov. 26) right before
Thanksgiving,’’ Greg Penny, community
relations coordinator for the state
Department of Transportation, said late
The road – one of the
most heavily traveled in the Sentinel’s
coverage area – has been closed since
Oct. 27 so crews can stabilize two
sections on the ‘‘north’’ (Halifax Twp.)
side where the mountain slope has been
slowly separating from the roadway.
Two separate retaining walls –
and an anchor-type system underneath the roadway
– have been built as part of the project.
Before traffic can return,
however, several aspects of the work still must
“Both the upper and lower
sections have been ‘fine graded’ and are ready
for paving Monday (Nov. 24) – weather
permitting,’’ Penny stated.
‘‘We should have warmer
temperatures more conducive to paving on Monday,
but rain is also forecasted – and we can’t pave
in the rain,’’ he noted.
‘‘Once we pave the road, there’s
still guide rail to be installed, shoulder
backup to be placed, and traffic lines to be
painted,’’ Penny stated. ‘‘We also have to back
up the outside of the retaining wall with about
two feet of rock.’’
Updates on the project will be
posted on the Sentinel’s website and Facebook
North Side Story: Stabilizing the Slope
photos by Duane Good
Additional photos courtesy of PennDOT District
The separation of the
mountain slope and the roadway was
visible in both the upper and lower
A lack of traffic on
Peter’s Mountain during the past month
has not meant a lack of other activity.
Since the end of October,
the steady hum of vehicle engines has
been replaced with the grunts of heavy
equipment, the clangs of a pile driver
and the searing of acetylene torches.
And when that segment of
Route 225 – one of the most
heavily-traveled highways in the
Sentinel’s coverage area – reopens in
the near future, several changes will be
visible to the road’s regular users.
As of press time (Nov.
24) for this week’s issue, state
Department of Transportation officials
are working toward reopening Route 225
over Peters Mountain by Thanksgiving
Officials said the work – which
began Oct. 27 and has been continuing six days a
week to this point – was necessary to address a
longstanding, and potentially dangerous, issue
at two segments of the highway on the ‘‘north’’
(Halifax Twp.) side of the mountain.
‘‘It was only a matter of time.’’
As officials with PennDOT District 8-0 explained
it, the mountain slope has been slowly
separating from the roadway in two areas – one
near the base of the north side; the other
toward the top. One area was about 360 feet in
length, the other about 200, the equivalent of
almost two football fields.
‘‘It has been an issue
for a while. Our maintenance crews have
had to do patching in the area for many
years,’’ according to Mike Deiter,
District 8-0’s construction manager for
Dauphin and Perry counties.
The district office also
was getting calls from drivers who were
noticing cracks along the road shoulder
in the affected areas, added Greg Penny,
District 8-0’s community relations
On average, an estimated
11,200 vehicles travel the affected
segment of Route 225 on a daily basis,
according to PennDOT.
Once in place, the beams
are connected by steel rods.
As PennDOT planned to undertake a
major paving project involving Route 225 on both
sides of the mountain, it was decided to first
address the deteriorating slope before the
situation got worse.
‘‘You could tell you had some
separation between the roadway and guiderail;
the asphalt was starting to crack and settle,’’
‘‘It was only a matter of time.
It might have been 10 months or it could have
been 10 years,’’ he said about a complete
separation, an incident called a ‘‘failure’’ in
After several solutions were
considered, it was decided to build a support
system that would stabilize the slope and halt
The system would take the form of
additional supports underneath the roadway and
retaining walls above it.
Because the work would involve
excavating large segments of road as well as the
use of various heavy-equipment pieces, Route 225
across the mountain needed to be closed.
PennDOT officials said the
closure had to affect both the north side, where
the work was being done, as well as the
‘‘south’’ (Middle Paxton Twp.) portion to allow
access to the site for construction crews and
PennDOT originally projected that
work would take ‘‘at least four weeks,’’
‘‘Even though this road closure
is a disadvantage to motorists in the short run,
it’s actually for the best,” Deiter said.
“Instead of waiting for the road to fail and
then we respond to the problem – which could
require months to design a solution, hire a
contractor and conduct the work – we’ve been
‘‘As a result, we can address the
two slope areas we’re most concerned about in
weeks rather than months – and that’s a big
benefit for motorists who depend on this route
over Peters Mountain,’’ he said.
In addition, the road closure
allowed other crews for the contractor a window
of opportunity to make repairs on the south
side, including drainage work, pipe replacement,
tree trimming and minor repairs to the road
The paving project originally
scheduled for this past August now will take
place during the spring and summer of 2015 on a
six-miles stretch of Route 225 between the
intersection with Route 325 (Mountain Road) in
Middle Paxton Twp. and the intersection with
Route 147 in Halifax Twp. (aka the Triangle).
Stabilizing the slope. At the
time of the Sentinel’s visit to the site Nov.
13, both segments had been excavated and work
was progressing on both the visible and
invisible components of the roadway support
The system includes components
that are common in construction work (such as
multi-story buildings) that involve trying to
build a stable foundation within soil.
Separate steel structural beams
are put into position by a crane, then hammered
into the earth by a pile driver, which clangs
repeatedly until the beam refuses to go any
Welders severed each beam to an
acceptable height, and the process continued
until a complete network of beams was visible in
the excavated roadway.
In addition, beams were hammered
into the road shoulder as part of construction
of a retaining wall for both road segments.
Both the outside and interior
beams were connected by steel rods, creating an
interdependent anchor. For further stability,
timber laggings were installed as part of the
Noting that the crane itself – A
Manitowoc-brand lattice boom crawler – occupied
a ‘‘footprint” equal to a single traffic lane,
Deiter said it would have been impossible to
keep the other lane open because the additional
space was needed for the pile-driving process.
Also, because the road on the
mountain’s north side has a noticeable upgrade,
care had to be taken to keep the crane on as a
level a base as possible – not just to prevent a
tip-over, but also to ensure that the H-Piles
were driven in at the right locations.
According to Deiter, it would
have been ‘‘a nightmare’’ to try and do the
necessary work in the overnight hours and keep
the road open for daytime use. The crane, for
example, would have had to be dismantled and
reassembled for each shift.
‘‘Instead of a job that would
take five-to-six weeks with the road closed,
trying to keep the road open during the day
would have drawn out the work to three-to-four
months and cost three-to-four times as much
money,’’ Deiter said.
Few complaints. In all, the
necessary work has been ‘‘moving fairly
quickly,’’ with the general contractor,
Hummelstown-based Handwerk, keeping the project
going forward with minimal issues, according to
‘‘We’ve been able to adapt to
anything that came up,’’ he said.
If there were any challenges, it
was making sure that the grade on the north side
was not preventing them from properly installing
the beams needed for the support system, Deiter
noted. It was difficult lining up the beams
where they needed to go, and some adjustments
had to be made on site. These issues were
resolved in the field.
The public at large has been
patient with the ongoing process, Penny stated.
‘‘People have been very
understanding and have given us the benefit of
the doubt,’’ he said. ‘‘I haven’t received many
Touring the actual construction
site – as the Sentinel did in preparation for
this article – ‘‘gives you a sense of how
involved (the work) is,’’ Penny noted.
Even the resident of the house at
the very top of the mountain has been
cooperative, Deiter noted.
‘‘The gentleman has been very
nice to us, letting us turn our trucks around or
park vehicles there when we needed to,’’ he