DANVILLE — The eroding Bald Top Road in Mahoning Township could be closed for up to a year before it is rebuilt.
"This is going to take time," township Supervisor T.S. Scott told residents at Monday's supervisors' meeting. "We're talking months, not weeks."
At the meeting, township engineer Drew Barton explained the work that has to be done to make the road safe for traffic, including analyzing subsurface material. The supervisors also approved contracts for preliminary boring and lab analysis that must be done before the reconstruction can begin.
"It's seven weeks out before design," Barton said.
The road, a steep hill leading to homes on Bald Top, has had water erosion problems beneath its surface for decades. The frequent rain has not helped. Nearly two weeks ago, the road began collapsing in some sections, leading officials to close the road.
Barton said the best case scenario is the repair work would be done by Christmas. But Scott said another problem is most contractors currently are busy with other contracted work, and they are behind because of the rain.
"We might have to go out of state," he said.
Several residents who live on Bald Top Mountain asked the supervisors whether the road could remain open one way, at least for medical responders such as surgeons, who at times must get to Geisinger Medical Center for emergency surgeries.
But Supervisor Chairman Bill Lynn and street department superintendent Lloyd Craig said even with the road closed, some motorists are going around the road closed signs. Officials fear that even if the road were one way, drivers still would use it both ways.
Scott said the township did not barricade the road completely because emergency vehicles might need to use the road.
Some residents expressed concerns about the detour route, Klein Road, off Route 642 west in Valley Township, because of sharp turns and it is a longer route.
But zoning officer Jim Dragano said he didn't think anyone wants to see a bus full of school children traveling on the road and having it collapse.
Police Chief Sean McGinley suggested those concerned about medical responders getting to the hospital should contact legislators about pending legislation to give emergency status to those responders.
McGinley also cautioned that motorists who drive around a sign or traffic control device could pay a fine of up to $250, unless emergency medical or rescue personnel, including towing services, are called, then the violator could end up paying a fine of up to $500 plus court costs and restitution for the emergency response.
A resident suggested making an alternate route of what she said was an old logging road near the former Holy Family Convent to get up to Bald Top. Zoning officer Dean VonBlohn said that road is a former rail line where iron ore was brought out of the mines. He said it is privately owned.
But the supervisors said they would look into the option.
The supervisors voted to hire Eichelberger's Inc., Mechanicsburg, for boring at a cost of $15,640 and installation of an inclinometer, an instrument used for measuring angles of a slope, elevation, or depression of an object, for at least two months at a cost of $2,500 a month. Advantage Engineers, Mechanicsburg, will do analysis and design.