Who should maintain emergency access road?
Dingman supervisors said PennDOT should accept responsibility
By Anya Tikka
DINGMAN — Dingman Township Supervisors and Solicitor John Klemeyer recently discussed whether to take on responsibility for an emergency access road to I-Route 84.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) asked the town to sign an agreement that it says is routine related to the use and maintenance of the emergency exit near Raymondskill Falls Road. The town did not sign it.
“PennDOT forwarded an agreement to the township for their ownership and maintenance of this emergency access," said a follow-up letter from state Senator Lisa Baker’s Office, sent by spokesperson Andrew Seder. "This is normal practice and is identical to the agreement Roaring Brook Township signed for an emergency access point on I-380 in Lackawanna County.”
It continued: “PennDOT also said they’ve heard rumblings that the township may want this access to take vehicles off the interstate in emergencies. This is strictly prohibited by PennDOT and FHWA (Federal Highway Administration). An emergency access to the Interstate may only be used for emergency vehicles. So I don’t know if that is partially why they do not want to sign this agreement or not.”
Klemeyer voiced his concerns over who’s going to bear the burden of maintaining the emergency road, which is located between state roads, and the problem PennDOT has over who’s going to use the emergency exits.
“It’s a PennDOT asset because there’s no access to it all the time," he said.
Board Chair Tom Mincer agreed.
“It’s a State road, and they want us to own it and maintain it," he said. “It’s their road that we need access to with emergency vehicles.”
Board member Dennis Brink said, :They want us to be responsible for the care and maintenance of the emergency exits, but they only want us to use it what they want us to use it for."
Officials also discussed the difficulty a plow would have on Route 84 in a snowstorm, and the safety concerns over emergency vehicle access in a fast-moving situation.
Town Clerk Karen Kleist was instructed by Klemeyer and the board members to contact Brown's office. “We are trying to provide emergency services to their highway," she said. "If they don’t want our emergency services, they should send us a letter stating they don’t want us to protect people on their highway, and sign it by an individual in their department so we may forward it to other people who need to know that name.”
Mincer summed up that "it’s a great idea to provide life-saving services on that highway because there are none. And if there is an accident, and it’s a little difficult for the emergency service to get there because of the setup, PennDOT should be responsible for it.”
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