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News Article
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New Hanover Struggles with Possible Road Closures
Written by Candace Perry, Correspondent

Simultaneous work on four bridges could hamper emergency responders


            A potential road closure situation that has been brewing for months in New Hanover Township has finally come to a head.  But, what exactly is going to happen remains to be seen.

            Township manager Jamie Gwynn reported "hitting the nuclear button with our county officials" at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday, April 7.

            Gwynn has been working for four years to avoid having four township bridges closed for repair at the same time. Such closures would create an emergency management nightmare for first responders, in addition to creating headaches for residents and others driving through New Hanover. If all the bridges were closed, detours could take first responders an additional five to fifteen minutes, Gwynn said.

            Working with state Rep. Tracy Pennycuick and state Senator Bob Mensch, Gwynn was able to meet with PennDOT officials regarding the closure of a bridge on Charlotte Street. PennDOT was receptive to the idea of the delaying the work on the bridge, which will take 76 days, until the New Hanover Square Road Bridge, also a PennDOT project, is completed by the end of June.

            County representatives have proven to be more difficult. Gwynn commented that it took Pennycuick and Mensch "bullying the county" to arrange a meeting, which occurred on April 1. The county projects include a bridge on Lutheran Road and one on Swamp Pike.

            Gwynn said he was informed at that meeting that the county had not issued a "notice to proceed" for the Swamp Pike project, and officials did not know whether materials needed were even available.

            Much to his surprise, five days later the notice to proceed was issued, with a start date on the Swamp Pike project scheduled for April 19.

            "The best-case scenario," Gwynn stated, "is that the county delays for three months."

            Board chair Marie Livelsberger read a statement to the board and audience regarding the potential closures and the meetings.

            "It took exhaustive efforts," she read, "to arrange a meeting with the county, which only made things worse." She noted that county officials could choose to help the township, particularly when "safety is at stake."

            On April 12, the township posted a message on its Facebook page thanking county commissioner Joe Gale for his tweet: "I agree with New Hanover Township, and I am recommending my colleagues work with me to delay Bridge #166 [Swamp Pike bridge] until June 30."  The township also requested that concerned residents and anyone else potentially impacted by these closures email the other county commissioners, Val Arkoosh and Ken Lawrence, to request the delay.

            In other roads related news, the supervisors approved a motion to prohibit parking, stopping, or standing on a portion of Colflesh Road at New Hanover Gardens nursery.

            In discussing uses for the American Rescue Plan funds, township manager Gwynn said the funds could be used for stormwater management and the replacement of a culvert on Sanatoga Road, which comes in with a price tag of $1 million. The remainder of the funds could be used for Swamp Pike stream restoration, at $260,000 and other smaller projects, adding up to the total funds available of $1.4 million.

            In police department news, the supervisors approved the hiring of Ron Ulary as a part-time police officer. Ulary previously served in Jenkintown.

            Township solicitor Andrew Bellwoar announced that the board had met in executive session prior to the meeting and would meet again afterwards to discuss personnel, litigation, and real estate.






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