Swoyersville Residents Concerned About Impact Of Trucks Hauling Coal Remnants
SWOYERSVILLE — At the previous meeting about a waste coal removal project in Swoyersville, residents showed up with concerns about how trucks hauling coal from the site would impact their lives.
After that meeting and another one Wednesday, Keystone Reclamation Fuel Management will use multiple routes for the truck traffic, said Matt Cochran, asset manager for Keystone Reclamation.
The project will remove about 27 acres of coal remnants on land owned by Pagnotti Enterprises to use at co-generation power plants that burn waste coal in Nesquehoning and Northampton. The entire site is 55 acres. It is bordered by Main Street, known as the Back Road, and several residential streets.
There will be two primary routes that trucks will use from the beginning of the project, Cochran said:
• Slocum Street through Swoyersville, across Wyoming Avenue into Forty Fort and down Welles Street to the Cross Valley Expressway.
• Main Street (Back Road) to Dennison Street, then down Dennison Street to Wyoming Avenue. From there, trucks will go down Wyoming Avenue to River Street then to the Cross Valley Expressway.
If needed, trucks will also use two other routes:
• Slocum Street to Wyoming Avenue, then to River Street in Forty Fort. From there, to Rutter Avenue, then the Cross Valley Expressway.
• From Slocum Street, right onto Chapel Street in Luzerne. From there, through Luzerne to Union Street, then to the Cross Valley Expressway.
Cochran and Henry Zielinksi, fuels manager for Northampton Generating Co., said they won’t tolerate truckers who don’t follow the company’s policies.
“If there’s a problem, I fire on them spot. I’ve done it dozens of times in the last two decades,” Zielinksi said. “They’re not going to be around.”
The entire length of Slocum Street is scheduled for paving, said Sam Galante, a maintenance manager with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
It’s unclear exactly when that will happen, but this stretch of road will be prioritized. It will also be designed to handle the truck traffic from the project, Galante said.
Keystone Reclamation is already building an access road on the site, and trucks should begin hauling their first loads of waste coal by the end of this month. It is the beginning of a project that is expected to take five or six years.
Work will be slower in the winters and faster through the summers. At peak production, ten trucks will each make four trips per day to the site.
The Department of Environmental Protection is paying $4 million toward the project. Olympus Power, the parent company of Keystone Reclamation, is putting another $8 million toward the cost.
When it’s finished, the goal is to have land suitable for development. A 7-acre parcel will be transferred to the borough.
Peg Magagna, 75, lives on Slocum Street in Swoyersville. She said she was one of about two dozen people whose water lines were damaged from trucks hauling material for a levee project several years ago — a common refrain at the two meetings.
She plans to research insurance for the possibility, but she is not confident a policy would cover the issue. She’s worried it will happen again, and she’s worried trucks will still be a problem.
To skeptics like Magagna, Cochran pointed toward the accelerated timeline for paving Slocum Street as evidence that the partnership between public entities and private companies would pay off.
“We’re all going to get this done together. We’re going to work neighborly, as our company worked with the borough. We’re going to be as neighborly as possible,” he said.
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