A multiyear effort to inventory local roads and bridges dominated dialogue Wednesday morning during a North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission [NCPRPDC] meeting as the board of directors linked the issue with Senate Bill 1100 (drilling impact fee).
All locally-owned roads and bridges under 20 feet are being inventoried, according to Amy Kessler, director of the Community Development and Regional Planning department at North Central.
"Right now we're collecting the major roads in McKean County and we have less than three weeks to get them all by Dec. 1," Kessler said. "They're spending a lot of time doing this and there is some low reception in some of the areas. With the condition of our infrastructure, we really don't have our arms wrapped around it in a local sense.
"We're looking at the condition of some local roads and the condition of bridges under 20 feet that aren't required to be inspected on a federal level-- there are some bridges from eight to 20 feet that need to be inspected but we need to do the inventory, and that's being replicated statewide."
Identification measures including the type of road [dirt, gravel, paved], measurements, and the addition of shoulders or sidewalks. There are two staff members reportedly in the field doing the legwork.
Paul Corbin, a Jefferson County commissioner and member of the commission's board of directors, suggested a possible link between the Marcellus Shale drilling activity and the impact that the road inventory could have on S.B. 1100.
"It's not going to be legally binding since we're not certified as engineers, but it will provide them with a timestamp of what that road looked like from our perspective before it was subjected to heavy use associated with Marcellus Shale drilling," Kessler said. "We're also trying to find out how to video-log it but then we're faced with the challenge of storing that video-- we don't have the IT equipment capable of storing all this, nor should it be our responsibility. We're working with PennDOT to see those options to manage that."
Bridges are the top priority, as the next step would be to get the structures inspected by certified engineers.
"There are a lot of small bridges that are really the lifelines for a lot of residents," Kessler said. "At some point based on a lot of the pictures we have, then people will be going out to see what may potentially be at-risk bridges. Until the money is there that basically says 'Go inspect it,' we can't really even have that conversation because we don't even know what's out there.
"One of our larger townships, and I won't say who it is, but they thought they only had four local bridges under 20 feet, but they actually had 12. That's a problem on their part because they weren't planning on the capital reinvestments of those structures. Regardless, this is nothing more than an inventory to tell us what is out there."