Henderson Township roads

Potholes, crumbling shoulders and other signs of wear, tear and erosion along School House Hollow Road in Henderson Township prompted recent discussion between residents and township supervisors. Like many of their peers who govern Huntingdon County’s rural roadway, supervisors say they are fully aware of conditions but are challenged by limited resources.

Road conditions and the limited resources available to address them came to the forefront of discussion this week between residents and Henderson Township Supervisors.

Peg Vlasak and Bobbi Jo Gearhart, who both live along School House Hollow Road, said worsening conditions — including potholes and runoff — are turning the trip to and from home into a treacherous one.

Vlasak, speaking at the township’s May 14 meeting, described road conditions as “horrific” and told supervisors “If you’re not driving around pot holes, you’re scraping where the road has come up.”

She continued that her daily travels take a toll on her vehicle. “I just spent $1,400 on repairs and my mechanic said, ‘Honest to God, Peg, it’s because of where you live,” she said.

Township chairman Richard Focht said he and fellow supervisors are aware of the problems along School House Hollow Road.

“It’s not that we don’t know about it but we’ve maxed out on the grants, he said, adding most of the township’s available dirt and gravel funds for 2019 are earmarked for a pending bridge project on Ponderosa Road. He continued the township has access to liquid fuels funds, but those, too are limited.

“Aren’t there any other grants?” Gearhart asked.

“There may be some stones that can be turned but all the usual channels have been exhausted,” supervisor Justin Hilling said.

Focht said the board would like to see the whole stretch of School House Hollow Road, from its connecting points at Route 22 and Stone Creek Ridge Road, repaired and improved. Paving is cost-prohibitive but tar and chip would go a long way toward improving conditions, he said.

“Two years ago, we were quoted $54,000 for a quarter-mile of pavement,” he said, noting tar and chip, on the other hand, runs about $14,000 per mile, based on most recent quotes.

“I’d be thrilled with tar and chip at this point,” Vlasak said.

Vlasak said she can appreciate the township’s limitations at present and recommended the road crew at least take actions to give temporary relief while the supervisors prepare a long-term solution. She suggested, for example, the crew clean out the ditches in areas most affected by runoff.

“We don’t have real ditches but what we do have are completely filled with leaves and debris,” Vlasak said. Near her home, stormwater runs across the road — and “everywhere” — with no infrastructure to guide it, she said.

“Even if we made better ditches, it would help prevent further road damage while we’re in a holding pattern,” Vlasak said. She added that she’s lived on School House Hollow Road her entire life and runoff issues are only now a problem.

“We can see where it’s run through the field — it’s never done that before,” she said. “I feel like I’m living at the bottom of a spillway.”

The board agreed clearing ditches could provide very real, if only temporary, relief. In addition, Focht said the township just took delivery of two pallets of cold patch; the road crew will be out and about patches holes and winter damage.

“We’ll get out as best as we can,” he said.

Bob Green talked about conditions along McCalls Hill Road, off Stone Creek Ridge. Green, one of the roughly 18 permanent residents who live along McCalls Hill, said the roadway has devolved into dirt.

“The oil and chip is totally gone,” he said. Green and Hilling reported there are areas along McCalls Hill where tree roots are burrowing under and into the roadway, causing further deterioration.

Focht noted Henderson Township manages 28.5 miles of roadway — many of which are vying for repairs the township can’t fund at present.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

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