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Erosion at Environmental Center concerns officials

  • AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Tom Rogal, county maintenance manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, front left, talks to Carbon County Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard, front right, and other county officials about possible options that…
    AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Tom Rogal, county maintenance manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, front left, talks to Carbon County Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard, front right, and other county officials about possible options that PennDOT could use to help solve an erosion problem at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in Summit Hill. Also pictured are Chris Storm, district manager for the Carbon County Conservation District, back left, and Bill Richards of state Sen. John Yudichak's office.
Published July 11. 2013 05:07PM

Carbon County and state officials are working together to solve a problem that has been plaguing the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in Summit Hill for years.

Yesterday, Commissioners Thomas J. Gerhard and William O'Gurek; Bill Richards of state Sen. John Yudichak's office; Dave Horvath, Parks director; Chris Storm, district manager for the Carbon County Conservation District; and CCEEC naturalists Susan Gallagher and Franklin Klock; met with Thomas W. Rogal, county maintenance manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; around a number of traffic cones highlighting a deep ravine created by an ongoing erosion problem on the environmental education center's property.

The large ditch has been created because of water runoff, which runs from the parking lot, down alongside the center's education pavilion and into the grassy area below.

Gallagher explained that the problem is getting a lot worse because the erosion happens with smaller rain events than in years before.

"When you have less water during a minor rain event and more damage, it's a major problem," she said, adding that the center educates the public on water issues, but can't seem to find a permanent solution to this issue. "We don't know what to do anymore."

Storm noted that each time the erosion happens, the center works to fill in the area.

Gerhard informed officials that the problem stems from water runoff from across Lentz Trail, which is located at the base of a mountain and contains wetlands. Once the water travels downhill across the road, it cuts a path through the neighbor's property, down their paved driveway and onto the environmental center's property.

"This is a year-round problem," Gerhard said, noting that in the summer it causes erosion; while in the winter, water runoff causes icy road conditions for motorists. "We are here to find a solution to fix this."

Klock added that the steel drainage grates PennDOT has along the road were packed during the most recent rains and also contributed to the major runoff.

Rogal said that PennDOT will do whatever needs to be done to alleviate the headache the erosion problem is causing.

"Over the last two or three years, there has been such an influx of heavy rain that now there are water issues in areas that never had issues before," he said. "It's an ongoing mission of ours to keep the public safe.

"We will fix this," Rogal added.

Some ideas to fix the problem included PennDOT providing the county with millings chipped up pieces of asphalt that can be spread on the path leading down to the pavilion. Once the millings are rolled and packed tightly onto the path and heat from the summer sun beats on the pieces, they create a hard surface, almost as if being paved.

Rogal also said thatPennDOT would look at the source of the problem across the road to see if culverts can be installed.

Following the meeting, Richards, Gerhard and Gallagher weighed in on how they felt it went.

"We are glad PennDOT is addressing the issue. It's wonderful," Richards said. "It's good to see everyone working together."

"I am very, very happy with PennDOT," Gerhard said. "We will find a way to fix this."

"I am impressed with the enthusiasm the group showed with finding a solution for this problem," Gallagher said. "Everyone is on the same page so we are hopeful that this will be addressed."

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