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December 06, 2016
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Reclaiming the roads and bridges of Damascus Township

DAMASCUS, PA — At the Damascus Township June 16 Board of Supervisors meeting, Operations Supervisor Steve Adams presented a detailed report of long-awaited road and bridge rebuilding projects currently underway. River Road, Chicopee Road, Plank Road, Hopkins Road Bridge and Boyce Road were among those mentioned.

The board’s obvious exasperation with PennDOT’s request to delay the replacement of Hopkins Road Bridge resulted in a decision opposing the request. Although a state-mandated engineering study is almost complete, PennDOT wants to delay start of work on the bridge. The board will urge that work start as soon as the engineering study has been completed.

The Boyce Road Bridge will remain closed until the end of June, by which time Adams hopes to have it reopened with the use of Jersey barriers. Designed to protect the abutment, the barriers will also serve as guardrail anchors.

On June 2, the board held a special meeting to open dirt and gravel road bids received in connection with a tar and chip repair of River Road, to be conducted by a low-bidding private contractor.

Roads and bridges were only one of the several topics addressed at the meeting. The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) grant offer for communications tower zoning review, tabled at last month’s meeting until Adams could study it, was accepted by the board. The UDC grant comes with only one stipulation: that the board present to the UDC documentation that the review was completed and any recommendations proceeding from it. Chairman Jeffrey Dexter, UDC liaison and point person for communication tower zoning issues, gave an update on fiber optic cable installation halted by the Delaware River Basin Commission after it was determined that the installation fell within the river corridor. Per the board’s original recommendation, the installation was moved 200 feet, placing it outside the corridor.

Dexter also noted that the UDC will reopen emergency preparedness talks, specifically about floods, dam ruptures and train wrecks, but topics will also include any type of natural or manmade disaster impacting the river and its residents.

Introducing discussion on an amendment to the Federal Clean Water Act, which would change the current definition of waters under federal oversight from “navigable waters” to smaller bodies of water—possibly as small as “ponds and puddles”—Dexter remarked that this definition could make for planning, zoning and property sale nightmares. The board unanimously opposed current amendment wording; Dexter will draft an official notice of township opposition.

The board went into executive session for 10 minutes, to make decisions regarding an employee salary review. When it returned to the meeting room, Dexter announced that the review will be tabled until August, to permit close monitoring of township expenses in the interim.