When Norbert Mayr first moved into his home on Gravel Pond Road, South Abington Township, he noticed the road was in poor condition, but told himself it would likely soon be repaired.
Now, more than nine years later, he’s still waiting.
After trying every avenue they could think of over a five-plus year time span — attending township meetings, writing elected officials, collecting 140 signatures on a petition and even launching a website — all to no apparent avail, he said he and his neighbors are now at their “wits’ end.”
“We feel as if we live in downtown Damascus,” Mayr said. “We have pot holes that would make Scranton look good. Every few months, a township truck comes by and throws a few shovels worth of blacktop into the pot holes, and a couple of weeks later, it is worse than before. Some of us have been fixing pot holes that are close to our homes, but there is little help forthcoming from our elected officials.”
South Abington Township Manager David O’Neill said the municipality needs some patience from its residents regarding the issue. He stressed that each of the 35 miles of road in the township is a priority to him and the other officials, and they are aware of the complaints about Gravel Pond Road.
He said the township supervisors keep a list of complaints regarding each road, and evaluate conditions and costs, determining which ones are most in need of repair. Final decisions on which roads will receive repairs are made in the spring, when bids are opened and contracts drawn, then work is completed in the summer.
While giving no promises, O’Neill said, “More likely than not, Gravel Pond Road is one of them for this year.”
He said the township is looking into rebuilding a 1,650 foot stretch of the road from Elden Drive to Noble Road. Preliminary numbers, estimated at last year’s bid price, show the job will cost about $102,000 for paving alone, not counting drainage repairs and other costs involved.
According to O’Neill, this year’s budget allows for a total of $350,000 in township road repairs, twice the amount of 2013.
Mayr said he hopes the township will rebuild the road this year, but expressed skepticism.
“We’ve received vague promises for years,” he said, “and every year, the road gets worse and nothing is being done.”
Another resident, David Wright, who moved to Gravel Pond Road in 1998, said he believes it was before that year when it was last paved. He described it as “in disrepair,” and agreed with Mayr that the patch jobs completed regularly by the township only worsen the situation.
“They just keep patching it and patching it,” he said, later adding, “I see them come up, and they repair specific spots over and over again.”
Mayr explained when the potholes are filled in with gravel, water makes its way under the stones and freezes or washes them away, expanding the hole. Then, he said, the loose gravel collects along the road, creating a sliding hazard for vehicles.
His largest concern, Mayr said, is for the Abington Heights High School students who utilize Gravel Pond Road daily as an access road to Noble Road, on which the school is located. He said one morning between 7:50 and 8:15, he stood at the end of his driveway and counted 118 vehicles drive by, most of which he believes were occupied by high school students on their way to classes.
“Being young,” he said, “they often drive at somewhat unsafe speeds. Add to that the pot holes and the eroding curb on both sides of the road, along with the loose gravel from past repairs, it is an accident waiting to happen.”