Emergency responder concerns raised with Denver bridge construction

By on August 16, 2017

Two safety issues relating to the South Fourth Street Bridge replacement project work were discussed at the Denver Borough Council Monday, Aug. 14, meeting.
One issue dealt with volunteers and the other with emergency vehicles responding to calls.
The bridge work is two blocks south of the only permanent traffic signal in town, at Main and Fourth streets.
Resident Mike Cohick spoke about the need for volunteer firemen coming from the south side of town to negotiate the South Fourth Street single lane signaled traffic as quickly as possible when responding.
“It could make a real difference in some emergencies,” he said.
Some Denver industries allow first responders to leave work to answer emergency calls. The south side of town has a group of industries, and several volunteer firemen who work there.
From the South Fourth Street Bridge to the fire company on the north side of town is approximately five blocks.
Borough manager Mike Hession said he’d speak with the volunteer fire police captain to determine how fire police could help expedite firemen responding and maintain safe conditions for drivers at the construction site.
Hession addressed the second issue.
“The borough requested that PennDOT, prior to the one-lane traffic signal activation, activate a pre-emption, or interceptor device so emergency vehicles can switch the light to travel through the project area,” he said.
“The PennDOT traffic unit which handles these requests decided that the pre-emption device is not needed.”
The short span bridge, PennDOT officials said, would still have about a 15-second lag for the traffic already on the bridge to cross. PennDOT officials said that most of the time, with the small amount of traffic and long-site distance that once is traffic stopped, the emergency vehicles could go through on a red signal before the timing delay for the bridge would catch up and turn green, whether or not there it was pre-empted.
A PennDOT supervisor said when a pre-emption device was added to a previous project it cost $8,500. The cost, according to PennDOT officials, with virtually no benefit, won’t be pursued.
Hession said he wrote a response to PennDOT explaining how the interceptor would be a positive safety move for other traffic on the road, plus the many entities on the south side of town which rely on swift emergency response. The south side of town has the Cocalico School District — elementary, middle, high school and administrative offices — as well as a collection of industrial and residential properties and a nursing home.
The interceptor cost of $8,500, less than one percent of the bridge project cost, is valuable to the borough for responding to an emergency as quickly and safely as possible, Hession told PennDOT. This street is the only street the fire company can use to reach this south section of town.
Hession also asked East Cocalico Police Chief Terry Arment and the Denver volunteer fire chief for their response to PennDOT’s reply.
In other business:
* Borough representatives and the borough solicitor will meet with District Justice Nancy Hamill to review the proposed quality of life ordinance. It will shorten the time that offenses can go unresolved and includes assessment of fines.
* The Denver MS4 stormwater management plan 30-day public review/comment period concludes Aug. 25.

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