Greenfield Twp. Has Bridge Problem
October 24, 2019
The Greenfield Township Board of Supervisors held a special meeting on Oct. 9 to discuss right-of-way ownership near a Blair County-owned bridge along the township’s Evergreen Rd.
The structurally deficient bridge, which spans South Poplar Run, is scheduled for replacement by the county as early as next summer and includes a new stormwater management system.
While the system is currently on private property, PennDOT policy now requires that this public infrastructure be publicly owned. The county’s plan is to turn over ownership and maintenance of the system to the township, after construction is complete. The county will retain ownership of the bridge.
Township supervisors are concerned about taking on this new responsibility, as water runoff from nearby Ski Gap Road and other upstream sources is not addressed by the project. They argue it could negatively affect the new infrastructure.
“What we’re not replacing is probably the biggest issue,” said Matt Treon, chairman and road foreman. The current drainage system in the area is described, in part, as a “hodge podge” of pipes. At times of heavy rain, it can become overwhelmed and is at risk of failure, according to the supervisors.
Brian Wiser, project engineer from Keller Engineers, stated that the scope of the project has already been extended beyond PennDOT’s original boundaries to accommodate the stormwater system, so making additional upgrades would be unlikely.
The proposed system is the “only acceptable solution” from those that PennDOT reviewed, Wiser said. The drainage pattern should not change within the scope of the project and may improve catching some of the water flow.
The project should last 25 years before needing maintenance, according to Wiser, but may need to be cleaned out periodically.
Adding the additional cleaning task to the highway department’s duties is not favored, as township staff is already “stretched at what we have,” Treon said. The township typically does not maintain stormwater systems unless they are impacting township roads.
If larger pipe could be installed to allow additional water to flow through the system and reduce potential effects, it would help to ease the township’s concerns.
Supervisors voted to table the issue until their Nov. 6 meeting, allowing the project leaders time to obtain answers and provide stormwater flow calculations.
It was not immediately clear what would happen if the township refused to cooperate with the county on the project, but the start date is likely to be delayed.
Treon expressed disappointment that the county commissioners, who originally requested the meeting, were not in attendance, although the county administrator, assistant chief clerk/assistant county administrator, assistant road master, and assistant solicitor were present.
The six landowners whose properties are adjacent to the bridge project have been contacted and seem amicable to the project, according to Wiser. Some land will be purchased for the project and new easements established at these properties.
Ninety-five percent of the project’s funding will come from federal and state resources, according to county officials. The township will not have to contribute to the project financially, although Treon said “our residents will pay for it in the long run,” if there are problems.
Also, at the meeting, the resignation of police officer Lindsey Spayd was accepted by supervisors. She was hired in March 2019.