By Denise Larive
Union Township Supervisors recently said they would seek financial recompense for the 18 years that Geigertown Road has served as a detour to Route 82.
Robeson Township Supervisors permanently closed on April 19 a 2.2-mile portion of Route 82. Four bridges were destroyed by floodwaters in 1987. That section of road was never reconstructed. Traffic has been detoured onto Union Township's Geigertown Road for 18 years.
The board unanimously approved for Township Secretary Lori Donald to obtain a copy of the resolution approved by Robeson Township Supervisors on April 19 and a copy of that meeting's minutes.
It was also unanimously approved for Township Solicitor Frederick Hatt to research PennDOT compensating for a temporary detour that has lasted 18 years.
"PennDOT hasn't stepped forward for 18 years," said Supervisor Donald Basile. "Will they now? My problem is if we don't get anything out of PennDOT, [we] close Geigertown Road and make it a local road."
"Today's condition is at best 'fair' of Geigertown Road," said Supervisor John Salaneck, III. "In a few years it would be a safety issue. It shouldn't be our burden to resolve, it should be PennDOT's. The burden to evaluate and come to a conclusion is PennDOT's responsibility."
"Route 82 was a state road 19 years ago and we're paying the burden for something that isn't in our municipality," said Salaneck. "I think they [Robeson Township officials] need to be more proactive in standing up in getting that road fixed. If Robeson Township and the Borough of Birdsboro feel the road should be closed, then Union Township should be paid restitution for the last 18 years and the cost shouldn't be with Union Township taxpayers."
Salaneck estimated Geigertown Road repairs to cost approximately $500,000.
"This has got to be resolved in such a way we don't end up paying for it, although we already are," said Board Chairwoman Leslie Rebmann.
"We may need to go to court," said Salaneck. "Robeson Township took no consideration of the impact by closing Route 82."
"The bigger issue is that if Route 82 is going to stay closed, everyone should work together to avoid Geigertown Road," said Rebmann. "I don't know if that's possible. Robeson is looking out for their residents just as we are. It's not Robeson's fault and it's not Birdsboro's. I agree we need to go after PennDOT. It's not right."
In other business, Hatt said Union Supervisors may want to start a discussion with another municipality regarding implementing a joint comprehensive plan.
The Southern Berks Regional Joint Comprehensive Plan is on hold. Officials in Caernarvon Township and the Borough of Birdsboro have rejected signing an implementation agreement for the JCP. An implementation agreement would protect certain zoning areas in each municipality.
"Robeson also feels that without an implementation agreement certain zoning issues/changes could not occur," said Hatt.
If the implementation agreement fails, Union supervisors have asked Hatt to review the JCP book and determine what could be salvaged for Union Township.
Township officials have determined that the total estimated project cost for the Hallman Road culvert would be $227,398. The board unanimously approved to apply for county aid to cover the construction cost.