Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Left turn lanes installed at High and Market

In the past several weeks, left turn lanes were installed on East and West High Street at Market Street as part of a synchronization project and other improvements to all the signaled intersections in the Elizabethtown area.

As anyone who navigated the intersection can attest, drivers had been making their own through and left turn lanes for years. This created hazardous and dangerous situations at times.

With the turn lanes, drivers now know exactly where to go. The project did require Borough Council to eliminate parking on High Street so the lanes could be painted,  but it was a decision that creates a safer community.

When I drove through the intersection with the marked turn lanes the first time, I thought that it would eventually need left-turn arrows for High Street drivers. During the Elizabethtown Area Regional Authority's meeting this morning, West Donegal Township Supervisor Chairman Ralph Horne brought up that point.

However, Steve Gault, a traffic engineer for Mount Joy Township, said the synchronization of all the traffic signals complicates adding the arrows. While they could be installed, he noted that the time it would take for the arrows to cycle through would have to be taken from the cycle on Market Street. And if you adjust the timing at that intersection, all of the other intersections through town would need adjusting to accommodate the change.

"It's sort of a balancing act," Gault said, adding that the negatives of adding the arrows outweigh the positives.

Gault also noted while the synchronization project will help with traffic flow through Elizabethtown, Maytown Avenue at Market Street will continue to be a congested intersection. He said "the only way" to eliminate that is to "build more capacity or reduce (the) volume" of traffic.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's been a tough week for all of us

As I look out my window this morning, I actually see some sun and a little blue sky! It's notable after the past few days that saw the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dump 15 inches of rain on Elizabethtown and the surrounding area.

That caused lots of problems, including flooded streets, some people's evacuating homes on Poplar Street, manholes that bubbled up with excess water and basements with a little to a lot of water. And I think these issues might just scratch the surface.

Personally, my house had water in the finished basement that required tearing out carpet and the padding (see the picture at left). I still have three fans and a dehumidifier running constantly. I talked to the previous owner of the house, who was surprised because he grew up here and raised his own family in these walls and never had water in the basement in 50 years. That includes Hurricane Agnes in June 1972 that devastated parts of Central Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg.

Clearly, the storm this week was an extraordinary event.

So when I talked to someone at the borough office yesterday afternoon, he mentioned that people called to report problems with sewer backing up into their basements. And they blamed the borough, or they blamed neighbors. As the borough said in its news release yesterday, those problems are not the borough's responsibility.

Besides, when your community gets 15 inches of rain in a few days -- in a month when the average rainfall is typically less than 1 inch -- all bets off in my opinion.

From the perspective of this borough councilman, this isn't a time to pit neighbor against neighbor and play a blame game. This should be a time for us as a community to come together and help each other.

Kudos go to the borough staff, the Elizabethtown Police Department, the Elizabethtown Fire Department and emergency management for an outstanding response. As my fellow Councilman Meade Bierly said, it makes our jobs as elected officials easier.

Friday, September 9, 2011

State of emergency remains in effect

Officials in Elizabethtown Borough issued the following news release this morning:

A state of emergency remains in effect for Elizabethtown Borough. Flood waters have receded, but residual damages have presented hazards.  These include some sidewalk areas. Residents are urged to use caution in their travel and other activities. South Chestnut Street between Park Street and East Bainbridge Street sustained flood damage and remains closed. All other streets are open to traffic at this time. During the peak of the flooding, the borough’s sanitary sewer collection system experienced significant impact in flow by flood waters, causing sewer backup at some residences. Residents should take care to thoroughly clean residue in all impacted areas. The Borough is not responsible for this cleanup. Residents should check with their homeowners insurance policies to see if assistance may be available. There are no plans for a borough-wide power outage at this time. Residents should call 367-1700 for emergency dumpster permits should they be required for cleanup.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Elizabethtown declares state of emergency

Officials in Elizabethtown have declared a state of emergency after constant heavy rain all day today caused flooding on Market Street. Some residents on Poplar Street had to be rescued from their  homes, according to Borough Council President Phil Clark.

Those residents who were rescued were taken to the Elizabethtown Fire Department and later bused to the Elizabethtown Area High School. If you need to evacuate your home, please go to the Daubert Gymanisum at the high school.

The only passable north-south street in town that is open is Mount Joy Street. Officials are advising to preserve drinking water for the time being.

Clark, who was at the fire department, called the town "a mess" at about 3:15 p.m. Some manholes throughout town were bubbling up with water because of the intense flow of stormwater,  and residents had called the borough office to report sewer backing up into their basements. One official said there's nothing to do but ride out the storm.

Clark praised emergency officials and the borough administration for doing a fantastic job. During his phone call, sirens could be heard in the background as personnel were responding to calls.

Market Street at College Avenue was closed because of flooding, and the owners of Folklore Coffee and Co. posted on Facebook that they were closing early because of flooding down the hill toward Rita's Italian Ice.

Elizabethtown College sent an email to students and staff, saying College Avenue at the college was closed because Lake Placida had overflowed its banks.

I'll report more information as I receive it.

Updated, 3:35 p.m.:
  • 25 kids are still at the Elizabethtown Child Care Center because parents can't get there. The center closed at 3 p.m.
  • Here are some photos posted on Folklore Coffee & Co.'s Facebook page for that end of town.
Updated, 4:32 p.m.
Update 5:40 p.m.

  • For people in Elizabethtown Borough who need to evacuate, please go to the Elizabethtown Fire Department on Mount Joy Street starting at 6 p.m. If you need to be evacuated, call 367-5300.