Kilbuck road projects on hold

Kilbuck Township officials will be looking for more information before deciding how to proceed with two road repair projects.

Chairman Russ Hardiman and supervisor Susan Merkner found themselves without critical information about problems on Wilson Drive and Semple Avenue. Supervisor John Fader was absent from the Sept. 22 meeting.

Engineer Rob Arnold reported that there were "potential geotechnical issues" involved with the failure of the pavement along a 35-foot stretch of Wilson. Those issues could involve a concrete retaining wall at one end of the street, and a wooden retaining wall at the other end, where stress and deterioration have been found, Arnold said.

He recommended testing by a geotechnical firm, at a cost of $26,360, to identify what was causing the problems on Wilson.

Hardiman asked whether it might be possible to repair the street without going to the expense of the testing. Arnold said that the pavement certainly could be patched, but there is no way to know, without the testing, whether the problem actually lies beneath the pavement.

A resident pointed out that part of Wilson had been repaired only a few years ago, following damage incurred during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He wondered what geotechnical work had been done at that time.

The supervisors said that no records had been located, but suggested checking with the previous township engineering firm before spending money on a new geotechnical study.

The supervisors also hesitated to decide on paving a section of Semple Avenue when questions arose as to whether Kilbuck had ever actually accepted the road as a township street.

Township secretary Harry Dilmore, who also works as the borough manager for Avalon, said that 260 feet of Semple closest to New Brighton Road lies within Kilbuck Township.

"It's in pretty bad shape," he said.

He and Arnold said that because a contractor already was mobilized for Avalon's extensive street repair program, Kilbuck could piggyback on the per unit price received by Avalon and repave the end of Semple for about $9,400.

"You certainly won't get it any cheaper on a unit basis," Dilmore said, noting that performing the work independently would add equipment mobilization charges as well as increased material costs for the smaller job.

Dilmore said that liquid fuels tax money received from the state could be used to pay for the project "with zero impact on the budget."

Time was of the essence, however, as Avalon's contractor will be working in the borough for only a short time longer.

The decision seemed a no-brainer when Dilmore said that the road surface was so bad that it would have to be paved within the next three to four years. Then the township's former public works supervisor, who served between 1963 and 1989, said that he did not believe that Semple had ever been accepted as a township street, and he did not recall Kilbuck ever repairing or maintaining that section of road. Although the street was paved during that time, he said Kilbuck did not perform the work.

Solicitor Chuck Means said that if Kilbuck never accepted Semple and has not maintained it for at least 21 years, the street is actually owned by the adjacent property owners. That would make it private property, and not open to public improvement.

The solicitor and township officials planned to investigate ownership of the street before a decision is made. One resident, however, had a suggestion on what to do with the street.

"I suggest we just give it to Avalon as a gift."

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