PIKE COUNTY — Local legislators recently urged Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards to find a way to get more rural roads repaired. While roads in several counties in the region were discussed, the focus was on Pike County where a unique geography, upkeep on a large stretch of Interstate 84, and an antiquated state funding formula have all combined to create a significant construction backlog.
“Some of these roads are in bad shape. I understand why local motorists are concerned about safety and upset about the added repair costs they face. We are looking for state officials to green light some creative fixes in the short term,” Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th) said. She indicated the more long-term solution is to change the funding formula so rural counties that have experienced significant population growth can get credit for the additional wear and tear on their roads.
Although the transportation package passed in 2013 has resulted in about $2 million annually in additional funding for Pike County, most of the work has been done on State Routes 507, 402 and 590. Others, such as Lackawaxen Road, Blooming Grove Road, The Tow Path, Rowlands Road, Greeley Lake Road, Silver Lake Road and Twin Lakes Road have been patched in some cases but not paved.
“We’re asking PennDOT to come up with a cost-effective and innovative way to treat the surfaces of the low-volume roads in our region,” said Rep. Mike Peifer (R-139th). “Our four-digit roads have not seen a surface treatment in many, many years.” He added that PennDOT needs to make up for lost time while the maintenance budget continues to be strained due to escalating costs for salt, materials, personnel and equipment.
Several possibilities were identified, but the most immediate solution would be to use recycled millings from the ongoing Interstate 84 project as the base for several roadways, which can be grinded up, rolled flat, and oil and chipped to make the roadways smoother and less damaging to vehicles using them.
“The Pike county road system is very large and the amount of road maintenance needed for these roads is tremendous. The secretary understands these needs, and we are looking for creative ways to use innovative recycling technology to help make road enhancements within budgetary guidelines,” said Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-189th).
The legislators said the transportation secretary is looking into the options discussed and working with district officials to find potential ways to address rural road issues moving forward.
“We face difficult challenges stretching our dollars across the vast array of our large, old system of roads and bridges,” Richards said. “We are investing significant dollars in improvements to Interstate 84 in Pike County and are considering such options as use of recycled asphalt to help improve more miles of lower volume roads in the county.”