Tamaqua's traffic woes to get worse before they get better
LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua Mayor Christian Morrison (left) presents long time borough employee Jeffrey Oakes with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Borough of Tamaqua. Oakes is retiring from the borough workforce after 40 years of service. Council president Micah Gursky thanked Oakes for his dedication and wished him well on his retirement.
Tamaqua's traffic woes have steadily been increasing as several construction projects are starting, including the Center Street bridge replacement and the traffic signal upgrades along Route 309. However, they could get much worse before the summer is over. Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said he has been advised PennDOT intends to shut down Route 309 completely for one weekend in August so the railroad company can replace track.
Councilman Tom Cara said the shutdown is necessary because, "there cannot be any vibrations in the track when it is welded." He added that the proposed detour, which would include state roads 443, 903, and 209, would be 18.8 miles long. Councilman John Trudich questioned what would happen in the borough's Owl Creek section if there was an emergency during the detour. "How would we get an ambulance or a fire truck out there? A house would burn to the ground before they got there," he said. Council agreed with Trudich and voted to send a letter to PennDOT stating that the proposed road closure was unacceptable.
Owl Creek resident Cathy Miorelli objected to the fact that both road projects are going to be going full swing right at the start of the school year. Miorelli said the traffic situation earlier in the day was not well controlled, citing the fact that northbound traffic was allowed to flow, only to be stopped at the red light, which then prevented southbound traffic from moving at all as well. "There needs to be better traffic control," she said.
Council recognized Jeffrey Oakes, who retired from the borough work force after 40 years of service, with a certificate of appreciation. Council also approved the appointment of Nathan Miller to the vacant position in the water department, effective August 3rd.
Council received no bids for either the 2001 police car or the property at 311 Orwigsburg Street. Both had been offered for sale. Council voted to rebid both of them, with a minimum bid on the police car starting at $500.
Council referred several items to the parking and traffic committee for review, including the movement of an "autistic child" sign on Rowe Street, a request for traffic cones to be placed along Greenwood Street every Wednesday evening for the Hang Loose bar to hold a Toys for Boys night, and the placement of a mirror in the vicinity of the Charlotte Solt Realty office.
Neighbors in the vicinity of the paper street section of Union Street voiced concerns over the activity that is taking place in the area, including vandalism and speeding. One local property owner has been cited for placing a fence that exceeds the borough's height limits on property that may or may not belong to the borough. The borough is still proceeding with a survey of the property in question. It has not been completed yet.
Edward Rummel submitted two letters to the borough, one concerning the lack of fire sirens during the July 5th blaze that claimed four borough properties, and one regarding the ongoing traffic issues in the borough. Shelly Bonser submitted a letter advising council the Southward Playground Association will hold its annual 9/11 Memorial Service at the Hometown Nursing Center on September 11th. Cindy Morgan and Carolyn Shock submitted a letter requesting the Morgan Foundation consider offering "scholarships" for out-of-district residents who frequent the Howard D. Buehler Memorial Pool, similar to the in-district program.
The Tamaqua Historical Society will be cleaning up the area around the Hegarty Blacksmith Shop on July 23rd and requested that that section of the street be closed during the cleanup for the safety of the volunteers. Council granted the request.
Council denied a request from George Hodgkins, formerly of Tamaqua, now of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to use his metal detector in the Bungalow Pool area.