Pothole problems may have local solution
09/03/2015 08:56AM ● Published by J. Chambless
By John Chambless
The age-old problem of potholes on state-owned roads may finally be addressed if East Marlborough Township adopts a new proposal from PennDOT.
The Board of Supervisors examined the proposal, which would allow individual townships to address road maintenance issues that the state-run department has not had time or manpower to address. Up to this point, local crews were not allowed to fix problems on roads that are under PennDOT jurisdiction.
Township manager Jane Laslo led the discussion at the board's Sept. 1meeting.
“Those of you who pay close attention to which are township roads and which are state-maintained roads know that there are no potholes in township-maintained roads, but there are significant potholes in many of the state roads,” she said. “The most difficult one in this area is Route 926, where the potholes are really quite bad. PennDOT has come up with this new plan to encourage local municipalities to be paid for temporary repairs on state roads.
“The primary reason I would recommend doing it, even though it's a lot of work for our crew, is that we get a lot of complaints. Many people have had to replace a tire this year because of potholes on PennDOT roads,” Laslo said.
Under the plan, PennDOT would reimburse $342 per ton of blacktop when township crews perform the patching work. The payment is intended to cover the costs of materials and labor, but more details are needed, Laslo said.
“We would do temporary patching of the potholes for the winter season,” Laslo said. “We don't take over all the maintenance on state roads, we don't take on the storm water, we won't be plowing Route 1. We do already have an agreement with PennDOT to plow Route 842 and 926 and 162. We already maintain them in respect to plowing and de-icing, so this would be an extra service. It may turn out to be too much work for us, but it seems to me it would be something that would be good to try, just in the interests of our residents.”
Board president Cuyler Walker said he favored the proposal, “but let's get our solicitor to review the agreement, and also get our roadmaster Dennis Mellinger's input.”
There did not appear to be a deadline for signing up for the proposal, and the board will return to the issue in October, Walker said.
The board also voted to approve a list of 20 conditions for the Walnut Walk townhouse community on Walnut Road. The conditional use order specifies that there will be no more than 73 units in the development, with 30 percent of the area reserved as open space. There will be a turn lane added to Walnut Road to allow northbound traffic to turn into Walnut Walk.
Board member Bob Weer raised a question about the length of the driveways for some of the units, asking if the specified 20 feet was long enough to allow larger cars to park without blocking the sidewalk. “You'd have the car up against the garage door, wouldn't you?” Weer asked. The sidewalks and setback specifications haven't changed since the development was first proposed by a different company in 2007, according to township solicitor Frone Crawford.
“I just raise the issue,” Weer said.
Ultimately, the board did approve the conditional use order. The long-delayed construction of Walnut Walk has not yet begun.
The board unanimously approved the appointment of Stanley Allen to serve as the township's representative on the Kennett Library Board. He will serve the remainder of the current term, until the end of the year. Walker noted, “I believe the Allen family is one of the most significant contributors to the adult literacy program at the library. The Allens have been active in support of the library, and we appreciate that we have someone with this background to represent the township.”
The issue of damage to local roads – particularly along East Doe Run Road – by large trucks hauling scrap metal from Delaware was also addressed by the board and Police Chief Robert Clarke. Clarke told the board he has spoken to one of the drivers for Diamond State Recycling, one of the companies whose trucks are frequently seen driving through the area. “They run three trucks carrying two loads a day out of Wilmington.” Clarke said. “One of the drivers said that when they come up 926, they can't make the turn at Landhope if there's two sets of cars there. It's too tight to turn a tractor trailer. So they go down East Doe Run Road.”
Suggestions from the board included imposing a weight limit on East Doe Run Road, keeping the trucks to routes 1 and 82, which Walker said “are built to a higher standard and able to handle those kinds of loads.”
Crawford said that the township could likely impose some sort of redirection or weight limit on truck traffic, but said he wasn't sure of the steps involved in doing so. In the meantime, Clarke said he would meet with the trucking company and ask them to avoid Doe Run Road, and see what happens.
At the beginning of the meeting, Walker took a moment to acknowledge Weer's Sept. 3 birthday, when he turned 80. Weer has been on the township's Board of Supervisors for 28 years, and before that, he served 20 years on the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board. “By my estimates, Bob has spent over half of his life as a public elected official in this community,” Walker told Weer. “I wanted to say what a tremendous example you are as a public servant. Happy birthday.”
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.