Closed by sinkhole, 422 between Reading, Hershey reopens

Highway could have been closed until Thanksgiving

NORTH LONDONDERRY TWP., Pa. - Work to fix a sinkhole-plagued stretch of Route 422 between Reading and Hershey has been finished more than a month earlier than expected.

The highway in North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, near Palmyra, was reopened to traffic around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

PennDOT closed the eastbound side of Route 422 on August 29, when nearby sinkholes began undermining the highway; the westbound side was closed about a week later, on September 6, as the sinkholes expanded.

At the time, PennDOT said the highway could remain closed until Thanksgiving, allowing time for a contractor to excavate the sinkhole and make repairs

The work, however, was done sooner than expected, despite crews having to remove roughly 260 feet of the road's pavement and excavate to a depth of about five feet, officials said.

They then discovered a sinkhole and large void adjacent to the repair area, beneath the underground bridge that was built during a major repair project in 2014. That void was filled with cement.

"It is an understatement to say we have problems with sinkholes in this area," said Mike Keiser, PennDOT's District 8 executive. "Our challenge is to manage the situation when a sinkhole appears and protect the safety of the people who use the highway."

The contractor installed a "flexible sinkhole safety net" over the excavated area, which included several alternating layers of geosynthetic material and soil, according to PennDOT.

"The repair we've made strengthens this portion of Route 422 and makes this stretch of highway safer should sinkholes emerge in the future," Keiser said.

Workers then placed eight inches of subbase material and paved 10-1/2 inches of asphalt for the new pavement.

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