Signs along Route 903 in Penn Forest Township indicate that the long awaited Pennsylvania Turnpike exchange will once again be under construction beginning this Wednesday. But if the concerns at the Monday evening board of supervisors meeting is any indication, the signs point to a bit of a rocky road ahead.
Chairman Paul Montemuro recently attended a meeting with PennDOT regarding the traffic lights to be installed along the new E-Z Pass only exchange. The meeting was also attended by state Sen. David Argall and state Rep. Doyle Heffley.
"There will be 14 separate traffic signals at the new exchange" said Montemuro. "The problem is that there is no plan to include any changing arrows. The current design would allow a free for all when the lights change; it is inevitable that there will be accident."
Under the state law, the municipality is responsible for the traffic signals once they are installed. According to Montemuro this means not only the electricity to operate the lights, but the maintenance as well. In addition, if the power is cut to the lights, it is the township's responsibility to provide traffic control until the problem is fixed.
"The township had a private engineer look at the PennDOT plans, and the engineer believes that the changing arrows are necessary to make the intersections safer," said Montemuro.
In order for PennDOT to proceed with the final lighting design, Penn Forest Township must sign off on the design even though according to Montemuro the township has no say in the design.
The lights will cost on the average of $50 to $60 per month in electricity. Montemuro said he will get quotes on what the upgrades will cost.
"One thing we don't want to do is cause any more delays in the construction," said Supervisor, Alan Katz. "This project means a lot to the residents of this township; with increased revenue and property values, and we don't want to do anything to delay it any longer."
The board directed township solicitor Gregory Mousseau to draft a letter strongly advising PennDOT of the township's concerns and requesting that PennDOT assume the liability should there be a serious accident as a result of the design it has set forth. In addition the township is requesting that PennDOT include a 4-hour battery backup system for the lights.
In other news, the Navitat Adventure Canopy is not currently on any agenda. Township resident William Miller addressed the board regarding the Navitat issue.
"Bear Creek Road is in horrible shape. We can't get any volunteers to help with the road ever since this zip line business started," said Miller. "How do they keep taking themselves off the agenda, are they just hoping we will lose interest and forget about them?"
"It's a big dog and pony show," said Montemuro. "I strongly suggest that you take pictures of the road during the springtime when it is at its worst so that you will have them to present to the planning and zoning boards to support your position when the issue comes before them."
The township took delivery of its new John Deere, 310 SK backhoe earlier Monday. The backhoe will be parked at the township building later this week if anyone wants to stop by and see it.
The board also agreed to send three employees for flagger training immediately since the road repair season is fast approaching. In addition, an ad will run in the newspaper for hiring new general road maintenance employees at $10 per hour.
With regard to the issue of recycling, the township is currently using commingling bins which have been supplied temporarily at no charge. Montemuro is in the process of researching alternate methods of recycling that would have the least impact cost wise on the township's residents.
The board voted to pay the current bills. Montemuro made a motion to pay all IRS statements as soon as they come in, rather than wait for the monthly board meeting to avoid any penalties in the future. The motion passed with a clarification that all board members need to be notified of the bill and the payment. Katz abstained from the vote.
The board also voted to move four properties to the Carbon County tax repository. These are properties that failed to sell at tax or judicial sales and will now be sold by the county. Once a property is moved to the repository the township loses its claim on past due taxes and the properties are sold clear of all tax liens.
Supervisor Christine Fazio made a motion that in the future when the board schedules workshops or special meetings that they be scheduled in the evenings so that more residents will be able to attend. The motion passed.