Officials still fixing roads damaged by flooding

Investigations

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — State officials are gearing up for what could be another season of severe weather. 

Last year, flooding damaged many roads and homes. PennDOT is still working to reopen roads, but some may stay closed for a few more years.

“The power of water, you don’t know what it’s going to do,” said Christa Newmaster, the acting maintenance services executive for PennDOT’s District 8.

Summer 2018 was one of the wettest on record. Multiple storms washed away roads, as well as flooded homes, businesses, and communities.

“We’re seeing a lot of these smaller disasters, more localized, significant impacts,” Acting PEMA Director Randy Padfield said.

The storms caused damage that is still being cleaned up by state and local officials.

“If we look at the trends, especially in 2018, we’re seeing a lot of significant devastation, smaller pockets, where we don’t reach the federal disaster threshold,” Padfield said.

At the end of the summer, PennDOT had 16 state routes closed in York County due to flooding damage. It is still fixing many roads, but five remain closed as they await repair.

For example, PennDOT says Accomac Road in Hellam Township could take years to fix. The road was pummeled by fasting moving water last August. 

“That project, we actually lost a very good portion of the roadway and it’s in an area that it’s very hard to fix,” said Newmaster.

PennDOT says that road and other will take longer to repair because fixing the damage may require specific permits, environmental approval, or an outside contractor. It also has to decide how it funds the repairs.

“We have to determine, and we work with other people to determine where the funding is going to come from or in some cases we might have to cut some work that we had planned to get those repairs done,” said Newmaster.

Funding to fix damaged roads is not built into PennDOT’s budget. Local municipalities in York County are also struggling to find money to fix secondary roads. PEMA hopes a new program will help lend a hand financially.

“There is a program that Governor Wolf is promoting called Restore PA and one of the components of that program is really money towards infrastructure,” said Padfield.

The governor is asking for $4.5 million over the next four years for Restore PA. However, he will have a tough time passing the bill. The funds would come from a severance tax, which the Republican-controlled legislature has fought against in the past. 

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