STATE—In light of the recent discussions surrounding rural road conditions in Pennsylvania, Representative Jonathan Fritz, (R-111th, Wayne, Susquehanna) will be motoring around roads in his district this morning to observe their condition.
“Wayne County, and Susquehanna County roads, for that matter, are unacceptably haggard,” said Fritz. “My observation is that we are in a tailspin now where we simply cannot keep up with the repairs using the current approach.
“My request with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards will be for a significant one-time additional injection of money for contract work in our region.”
In regards to the roads, Senator Lisa Baker (R-20th, Wayne, Pike, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wyoming), plans to introduce legislation proposing a comprehensive review of the maintenance distribution formula outlined in Chapter 91, Title 75.
This formula was last updated in 1997.
According to a cosponsorship memorandum, the review looks to study maintenance needs vs allocation in PennDOT County Maintenance Offices (CMOs), populaiton and vehicle miles travelled in each CMO, the effects of winter or Pennsylvania roads, emergency funding, and other aspects of state highway maintenance funding.
With the snow cover gone, damage accumulated by roadways over the winter months has become evident, leaving many of the county roads spotted with pot holes and other blemishes, not to mention road damage undertaken during the recent spring storms.
As earlier reported, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT's) 2019 construction season was delayed due to fallout from the heavy rains midway through last month.
PennDOT District 4 press officer James May explained crews prioritize repairs based on the nature of the road damage.
“If it's a safety issue, it's always top priority,” said May, noting that hazards which might “cause immediate damage to cars,” are also prioritized highly.
He explained PennDOT tries to keep repairs within the cyclic maintenance cycle to more efficiently address road needs in the state.
This means that if a hole is reported along an established repair route for the year, it will likely be addressed along with the scheduled maintenance for that area provided it is not gravely hazardous to motorists and their vehicles.
Pennsylvanians who notice pot holes and other road deterioration are encouraged to notify PennDOT by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD or clicking the orange tab online at www.penndot.gov.
May explained once reports are received, PennDOT investigates the report with a local crew and gets back to the caller/report maker within 48 hours.
Speaking to the challenges in staying on top of Pennsylvania road repairs, May noted, “Sixty percent of our budget goes to snow removal.”
He added that there are more miles of state roads in Pennsylvania than many of its neighbors.
According to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration, Pennsylvania ranks 11th in the country for miles of public road length, totaling over 120,000 miles in 2016.
This is more than New York and New Jersey in their individual capacities and the collective public road mileage of New England.
PennDOT will hold a public meeting at 9 a.m. on May 31 above the Visitors Center in Honesdale.
At the semi-annual advisory board meeting, PennDOT officials relay to the public the status of current repairs and plans for future work.
The anatomy of a pot hole
According to PennDOT, pot holes are formed due to the freeze/thaw cycle in Pennsylvania.
When water seeps under the roadway or into cracks in the asphalt and freezes, it causes the ground and road to expand, supported by the ice which formed underneath.
When that ice thaws and melts away, nothing is left supporting the road in that area and it collapses into a pot hole.
“In Pennsylvania, we have a lot of water and a lot of temperature swinging between freezing and above freezing,” said May, noting that combination of circumstances leads to the formation of many pot holes.
PennDOT Safety Press Officer Michael Taluto noted motorists should use caution when driving on roads with pot holes.
“Don't speed and take your time,” said Taluto, encouraging motorists to follow other safety measures such as always wearing a seatbelt, not texting while driving, and avoiding other distractions while operating a vehicle.