DAMASCUS - Road conditions were a hot topic during the monthly meeting of the Damascus Township Board of Supervisors.
Resident Steven Busi questioned when they were planning on starting to fix the roads.
Supervisor Vice-Chair Steve Adams said it has already started.
“Where?” questioned Busi. “I've seen more roads that are closed than I see open. I've seen more moon craters on this immediate area than I do on the moon when I look through my telescope. We've never had that since 2007.”
Supervisor Joe Canfield said it's been a cold winter.
“It was the same way in 2007,” Busi stated.
“Not this cold,” said Zoning Officer Ed Lagarenne.
Lagarenne stated the deep winter frost hasn't been kind to the township roads.
“It's left our roads in pretty bad shape, worse than normal,” he said. “The frost is so deep it's taking a long time to come out and it's coming out deeper, so the mud is deeper.
“The real problem is you can't get your cars over them, but worse than that, we can't get emergency vehicles over.”
Lagarenne used an example of a $150,000 ambulance trying to travel on the roads.
“If you drive it up a road to try to get to somebody and you tear the bottom out of it, you've taken a $150,000 ambulance out of service, but for how long?” He said. “How much is it going to cost to repair?”
He suggested the supervisors consider weight restrictions next year during the spring thaw to help alleviate some of the problems.
“We won't be able to eliminate all of them since we have dirt roads, but if we can alleviate some of that so we don't have to close roads and make them impassable to normal vehicles, we'll be much better off.”
Dealing with the issue
Adams said the road closed signs are primarily to keep heavy equipment and trucks off of them.
“What happens is when the frost comes out you can't even walk on it,” he said. “It's like walking on a mattress. The problem is the more we work it, the worse it gets.
“Wherever there are shady areas, those are the worst. If the sun can get to it, for some reason or another it comes out and it comes out fast.
“The best thing that we can do is stay off of it.”
“It pumps that water and makes soup underneath. Believe it or not you're better off not touching it at all. The key to this whole thing and solving most of it is to cut the roads back so the sun can get in.”
Adams said nobody wants to hear that because they don't want to cut down a tree.
“I can tell you that is the only way we're going to solve that problem,” he stated. “I’m going to do my darndest to open the roads up. I’m also going to try to build our roads back up.
“I'm going to try to get them to a point where they're respectable. That's my goal, whatever I have to do to do that.
“After being in here [as a supervisor] since January, I've had a chance to do a lot of thinking and a lot of looking. What I see is the key to this and that is what they did with Stone House Road.”
Adams said first the road was shaped up. Ditches were cut and everything was cleaned out.
“They got it prepared for the process they did,” he stated. “They laid eight inches of modified or DSA [driving surface aggregate].”
He said DSA is a finer mixture than modified and is used by dirt and gravel roads.
“It [DSA] has to be put on at a certain moisture content or it doesn’t work,” Adam stated.
“What I'd like to do is that process, then the next year put tar and chip in so that will eliminate that point of dust control.
“Then what we have to do is maintain that. It's easier to maintain a road that holds than to try to regrade it every year.”
He said it will also save money in the long run.
“You're not grading the road and you're eliminating a lot of work,” Adams explained. “There are several ways roads disappear and that's by dust and getting washed away.
“That’s how we've lost most of our roads. You can't keep the dust under control. There's too many things that are working against us. Right now we're almost to base.
“In a lot of places the base of our roads are already showing and you can't grade that. I want to make it right. Our township deserves it and we need to start spending our money in a positive way.
“The only way to do that is to have a plan and to work towards it.”
Adams said he wanted to hire a few seasonal workers to work on maintenance of the bridges and other issues around the township.
These issues include mowing the grass, weed whacking, cutting brush, wire brushing and painting the beams underneath the bridges.
“I don't want to have to pull men off the roads to do these things,” he stated. “One of the things that I noticed in my tours around the township trying to get a handle on everything, is there are a lot of things we can do in maintenance that just aren't being done.
“We need people to take care of the roads and there just never seems to be enough time set aside to do these type of projects.”
Adams proposed the township hire a couple of people for the summer to work from mid-May to the beginning of August.
He said people who would be good for the jobs are college students or anyone over 18.
“They would have to be able to run a wire brush, pressure washer, lawn mower and weed whacker,” Adams stated.
He added he wants to hire at least two seasonal workers.
“I don't want someone working alone,” he said.
Pay would be determined by the supervisors and would be based on the individual. It would be “more than minimum wage, but probably no more than $10” an hour.
Canfield said the pay can't be more than $10 an hour for any employees for the first 90 days.
The supervisors approved advertising for seasonal workers.