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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bethlehem Tp Decides to Fix Culvert Near Keystone Pub

It's in no man's land. PennDOT denies it has any interest in a 250' long stretch of culvert along Easton Avenue, directly across the street from the Keystone Pub. Nor does Bethlehem Township. For that reason, Commissioners pondered whether to even get involved in the repair of a collapsed portion, despite public safety concerns. "Once you undertake repairs, it is the Township's responsibility," warned Solicitor Wendy Nicolosi during a meeting in February, invoking the pottery barn rule. But at their March 16 meeting, four Commissioners voted to spend $17,000 for Engineer Brian Dillman's solution to the problem. A French drain. That's a trench filled with stones and a perforated pipe that redirects stormwaters. Though PennDOT insists it has no responsibility for the site, it is willing to supply the materials to fix it, provide flagmen and is even willing to waive the cumbersome highway occupancy permit that would otherwise be required.

"It seems PennDOT just wants to push this off on us," complained Michael Hudak, who was the sole No vote against undertaking repairs. But he agreed that the area is a public safety hazard.

"Somebody has to take a chance and move it forward," argued President Marty Zawarski. Tom Nolan agreed, noting that the repairs would make the area "safer for everyone."

Solicitor Jim Broughal thinks the area in question might be owned by the defunct trolley company, and if it is, it's pointless to try to find its successors. many Northampton County title people have tried. And failed.


Lighthouse said...

Commissioner Hudak is right when he says that "PennDOT wants to push this off". Mr. Broughal is also correct that a defunct Trolley Co. has "legal" ROW probably. However, Easton Ave is a PennDOT road, and so it is more "their responsibility" than the Twps', which is probably why PennDOT agreed to a very similar fix on the other side of the street several years ago between the Pub and Butztown Rd.

That all out of the way, we pay taxes to fund both PennDOT and BT, and that has become both a serious hazard and an eyesore for a "first class" Twp. So, thanks to the majority for ultimately fixing it. My understanding is that while the Twp is now taking "ownership" of the problem, that they have agreed to contribute some in-kind costs.

Bernie O'Hare said...

For once, I won't criticize Hudak for voting No, though I disagree with him. I understand where he is coming from in this instance, but it needs to be fixed, and that is government's responsibility.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody has to take a chance and move it forward," argued President Marty Zawarski.

OMG. This is why Zawarski is not fit to be a Commissioner. After receiving the advice of his Counsel, he leads the Board to take responsibility for a dangerous condition at a dangerous intersection NOT EVEN OWNED by the Township. You have to be kidding me!! People have died in that interesection whether by drowning or by car accident and yet PENNDOT refuses to do anything. Now here comes the ignornant, while do good Township and begins a process to accept liability by doing work to a failed structure that is not even theirs. Hoping the Township cleared this with their Insurance company and has assurance that it will be covered in case that repaired structure is part of a future issue. This is basic Local Government 101 in Pennsylvania and the Township just failed the course. While everyone wants to make things safe, it is important to know where the local taxpayers responsibilities begin and end. Total lack of leadership in that Township. No wonder nine people are running for office!

Anonymous said...

Would this be anywhere near where Debra LaForm died many years back?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Highway water drainage laws are complicated and extensive with various interpretations based on case law. The state roads and bridges serve as a flow area for the transmittal of water across its right-of way and can discharge water onto private property via pipes. In most cases, PennDOT is responsible to cross pipes and open drainage ditches within the legal right-of-way of a state road.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand the drainage system is not in the state right of way, therefore the state does not own or maintain it. Penndot offered to “partner” with the township and supply them the material and help with the work zone setup.