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Changes Coming to Luzerne County Roundabouts

AVOCA — PennDOT is making big changes to a roundabout in Luzerne County and those changes are being made because of a Newswatch 16 report last month. It&#...
roundabout

AVOCA -- PennDOT is making big changes to a roundabout in Luzerne County and those changes are being made because of a Newswatch 16 report last month.

It's all because of a roundabout in Avoca that was found to be too narrow for big rigs.

PennDOT opened the roundabout last month in Avoca. Tractor trailers sometimes have to hop the curb just to make this narrow turn.

Newswatch 16 also found truck after truck taking up two lanes to make the turn into the new roundabout.

The roundabout is one of three roundabouts built as part of the interchange project near the airport.

PennDOT insisted last month it was designed to easily accommodate 18 wheelers. But then our story made it all the way to Harrisburg.

Now, several weeks later, trucks are still taking up two lanes or hopping the curb, both major safety concerns.

"You curb one of these truck tires, you can blow out the side. That creates a hazard for anything if it's not blown out right then and there," said Mike Evans, Prime Inc. shop foreman.

"Your trailer's over in the left lane when you're coming through that, so you've got to really be careful of the people coming up alongside you," said Steve Williams, Prime Inc. truck driver.

When Newswatch 16 first showed PennDOT what we found, officials initially told us this curve in the bend of the roundabout was designed to slow down vehicles. But after our story aired, PennDOT is now promising to make changes to this roundabout.

"This was an example of us being able to go in, to watch the story that was on WNEP, to see the story, and come back and make some adjustments to the roundabout here. Basically, we were listening to the public," said PennDOT official James May.

Some of the changes include making the turn into the roundabout wider. Crews will also make the right lane exclusively for William Street traffic, hoping big rigs stay in the left lane.

"Anybody who's ever done even a project at your house, you know that when you're doing a major project, you do leave the ability to make adjustments and tweak the project as you're going along. And this is one of those things," said May.

But having big rigs stay in the left lane could be a challenge for some truckers.

"It could still be a safety issue because of the blind spots on the truck," Williams said.

This roundabout is only partially opened. PennDOT expects to make the changes before the roundabout is fully opened, scheduled for spring of next year.

"People always get frustrated when they say that, 'PennDOT doesn't listen, PennDOT doesn't listen!' And this is an example of one when we do come along and listen," said May.