“The power of water, you don’t know what it’s going to do,” said Christina Newmaster, PennDOT.
Summer of 2018 was one of the wettest on record, multiple storms washed away midstate roads, and flooded homes, businesses, and communities.
“So we’re seeing a lot of these smaller disasters, more localized, significant impacts,” said Randy Padfield, PEMA.
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,” said Padfield.
At the end of last summer, PennDOT had 16 state routes closed in York County because of flooding damage. It is still fixing many roads, but 5 remain closed, awaiting repair.
“Well the roads that are still closed, there’s different issues with them going on,” said Newmaster.
Take Accomac Road in Hellam Township. PennDOT says it could be years until its fixed. The state road was pummeled by fast-moving water last September.
“And 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 others 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 the money to fix secondary roads. PEMA hopes a new program will help lend a hand.
“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 4 years for Restore PA. He will have a tough challenge passing the plan as it relies on a gas severance tax that the Republican-controlled legislature has fought against.
Both PennDOT and PEMA are taking preventative measures to try to prevent potential flooding in the future.