With proposed construction scheduled to begin later this summer on the Indian Trail Road Bridge over the Hokendauqua Creek, over two dozen households submitted a petition to Allen Township supervisors requesting a formal meeting with PennDOT. When formal plans were introduced by the state in 2020, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of a public informational meeting.
The bridge, on a state-owned road, is scheduled to be replaced and widened to accommodate increased traffic spurred on by new warehouse development in the area. The state road, unlike township roads, is open to tractor-trailer traffic.
Many representatives from the 29 households who signed the petition were present at the supervisors’ June 14 public meeting. They voiced their concerns for public safety, health, and property values.
“What we need is a meeting to allow these people…[to] have their say,” said resident Bob Hosking. “They are here because there are many concerns…some of them are life-threatening…some of them are quality of life issues.”
Hosking cited dangerous speeds and limited sight distances as the biggest concerns. Others are drainage and vehicle weight issues.
Ruth Wesco, who has lived on Indian Trail Road for 43 years, said her house was hit recently by a speeding car for the third time.
“It has been an adventure,” she said of living on the busy road.
This latest accident caused over $30,000 worth of damage. But ultimately, lives, not material things, cause more worry.
“Things can be replaced,” she said, “people cannot.” She added that her grandchildren are not allowed to play in her front yard due to the dangers posed by speeding cars.
“This is not going to change if they make the bridge wider,” she warned. “[Cars] will just go that much faster.”
Township Manager Ilene Eckhart reached out to PennDOT as soon as residents submitted the petition. In addition to PennDOT and the township, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection also received the signed petition. According to Eckhart, the DEP will require PennDOT to hold an informational meeting as part of its permitting process for the reconstruction project.
A permit from DEP, Eckhart continued, is required before PennDOT can begin construction. According to Eckhart’s contact at the DEP, PennDOT has not even started the permitting process, making the anticipated July start date for the project very unlikely. DEP also requires PennDOT to answer questions and allow for a public comment period.
Eckhart said she offered the DEP the use of the Allen Township Fire Company Building for the public meeting. Supervisors unanimously motioned to provide this space so that the meeting would not be virtual, giving all residents and PennDOT representatives the chance to attend.
While there is no scheduled date for the public meeting, Eckhart said a notice will run online, in local papers, and state bulletins. When asked whether homeowners in the area will receive a formal invitation to the meeting, Eckhart and Supervisor Dale Hassler said they will ensure residents are made aware.
Hosking thanked the supervisors for their time and his neighbors for coming out in force to share their concerns.
“This is a residential neighborhood,” he said. “Not a state highway.”
The next Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m.