During their meeting on Tuesday, April 13, the Allen Township Board of Supervisors discussed the alternatives they would like to see to PennDOT’s suggested Howertown Bridge detour. The detour that PennDOT engineers recommended last month would close the northbound lane on Howertown Road and detour vehicles five miles around the construction site.
Supervisors were unhappy with this detour, citing safety concerns and a lack of access for first responders. Later this month, supervisors will have a meeting with PennDOT to discuss other options.
“[We need to] discuss what we want to see as options for detours,” township manager Ilene Eckhart told supervisors on April 13. “So we have a consolidated approach with these people…I fear if we do not have a uniform front on this…they are going to say [we] do not know what [we] want anyway.”
Supervisor Dale Hassler, who is also the township’s fire chief, said he would like to see the bridge leave one lane open and use a traffic signal to allow emergency services and firefighters to travel north toward the township’s fire station and more rural population.
He also added that another option could include building a new bridge adjacent to the current bridge and only removing the current bridge when the new bridge is complete.
“We are more than happy to go around [for training] but in a time of emergency, when minutes count…that is what I am looking at,” he said, adding that the convenience of the detour is less important than the safety it can provide to the township.
“PennDOT is not looking out for the people of this township,” he said. “PennDOT is looking out for PennDOT.”
Supervisor Gerald Montanari said he would like to see PennDOT just close the bridge entirely and “do it all at one time.”
“It makes a much better job,” he added. “The longer they drag [construction] out, the longer we are going to have to deal with it.”
Montanari also said that a temporary road through the Jaindl project for emergency providers, another option broached during the meeting, is not a possibility.
“The state lives by the excuse of the budget…we are not going to get a temporary, I cannot see it.”
Township engineer Stan Wojciechowsk added that PennDOT would have to install a temporary culvert to get across the creek, something he does not think would happen.
With so many different options and no consensus, supervisors decided to approach the upcoming PennDOT meeting without a formal decision. Instead, they will listen to the alternatives PennDOT recommends and reconvene as a board.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Allen Township Fire Company Building and streamed live via YouTube.