West Cocalico supervisors want to ‘build bridges right’

By on February 13, 2019

As is not uncommon in the doldrums of winter, talk at the West Cocalico supervisors’ Feb. 7 meeting turned to prosaic items like ordering snow and taking care of maintaining township bridges.
However, some of these issues raised big questions about the use of taxpayer funds, as in the case of the Horseshoe Trail Road bridge, which the township stabilized with concrete in the past. Erosion continues to be an issue, and supervisors have in the past described the bridge operating “on borrowed time.”

“We know we’re going to have some growth in the next 25 to 30 years,” said chairman J.J. Stoner, filling in the board on his work with a Rettew engineer who did not recommend expanding the width of the bridge by an additional two feet. “Why don’t we anticipate what’s going to be there in 25 years?… We have one opportunity to do this — I’m not satisfied.”

The township has the choice, he said, to go to another engineering firm to get a second opinion, which would cost around $5800 in additional engineering costs. Stoner said he feels a wider bridge would be a better long-term solution.

“I just don’t want to spend money on a bridge, and then in 15 years there’s an issue again,” Stoner said. “I’m not interested at all in wasting taxpayers’ money.”

Supervisors member at large Jeff Sauder agreed.

“We need to build the bridges right,” Sauder said. “We don’t even know what’s going to happen in 50 to 100 years — we have to spend a little extra to make it right, and hopefully be done with it.”
Sauder also stressed the need to finish the bridge to accommodate current traffic needs.

“We have to get this thing open on time,” Sauder said.

Stoner explained that some parties are concerned with possible increase in the velocity of water under the bridge, which he feels is not an accurate assessment of how a wider bridge would affect the water going under it.

Roadmaster Tom Showalter pointed out that the state Department of Environmental Protection could question or object to a new plan, which Stoner also pointed out as a distinct possibility. The only way to find out, he said, is to send the new plan for DEP to review.

Citing 1100 EDU water use units added by a new sewage treatment plant in the general area of the bridge, Stoner said he wants to see a long-term solution.

“I’m not even going to be around (when the issue re-emerges)… I don’t think that our problems today should be pushed down to anyone else,” Stoner said, citing a need to “deter the deterioration” of the bridge in question, and citing prior bridge work supporting the idea that a wider bridge would be possible.

The board voted to seek the additional engineering review.

Earlier in the meeting, Showalter reported on salt purchasing resulting from snow removal during the winter season.

The township, he said, needs 150 tons of salt to get fully stocked, but deliveries are going slowly.

Also present at the Feb. 7 meeting, Lieut. Tom Shumaker of the Ephrata Police Department gave supervisors a monthly police report with 55 total recorded incidents including 16 motor vehicle accidents, 13 noise and nuisance claims, two abandoned vehicles, 12 traffic citations and two cases of theft or fraud. One of the two theft/fraud cases was a problem with an Internet purchase, Shumaker said. The other was an identity theft case.

Noting that collision incidents were high because of bad weather, Shumaker also noted that one of the nuisance calls was for a ‘dog at large.’ He also referred to another dog-related case where the police department and district attorney investigated reports of an unsheltered dog, and found that the dog was in fact lawfully sheltered.

“Most (of the unsheltered dog) calls were generated by irresponsible Facebook sharing,” he said.

Justin Stoltzfus is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *