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Route 611 closure has businesses worried

Three miles of Route 611 are closed; business owners in the area want people to know they're open.

DELAWARE WATER GAP, Pa. — Behind a road-closed sign on Route 611 in Delaware Water Gap sits a crumbling, deteriorated, and eroded roadway. 

Last week's heavy rains caused a slope and retaining wall washout on the road, forcing PennDOT to close it indefinitely. 

"It's just a crisis. People are thinking the Delaware Water Gap is closed. It's not closed," said Tara Mezzanotte with the I-80 Delaware Water Gap Coalition. 

Three miles of Route 611 are closed, starting at Mountain Road in Delaware Water Gap Borough, stretching south into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Lauren Chamberlain owns Asparagus Sunshine just before the road closed.

She believes the signs are turning people away from visiting the Water Gap. 

"There has been no foot traffic. It already has definitely hurt the business last weekend, now we're coming up on Easter weekend, which is a holiday weekend, it's a big travel weekend, and we are basically cut off from the world," said Chamberlain. 

She, along with other business owners, officials, and emergency services on both sides of the Water Gap, came together at the Deer Head Inn; they want to let people know they are open for business.

"This is our bread and butter," Chamberlain said. "We're going into our busy season. This is why we're here."

Closing the roadway also impacts the Slate Belt.

"This is a thoroughfare for our residents to get through without having to pay a toll and getting to our residents in case of an emergency. This really adds a lot of time to our emergency response," said Martin Pinter, chairman of the board for Upper Mount Bethel Township. 

PennDOT officials say, "Engineers are developing plans to make repairs but have not finalized anything. They still need to do further analysis to determine what type of repair will provide enough stability."

The detour to get around the three-mile stretch is 30 miles long.

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