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Borough, and not PennDOT, will plow Vine, Main and Union for snow

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 9/13/17

For the first time since winter 2014-15, Middletown borough employees will be responsible for plowing state-owned roads in town — Union, Vine, and Main streets — and not the Pennsylvania …

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Borough, and not PennDOT, will plow Vine, Main and Union for snow

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For the first time since winter 2014-15, Middletown borough employees will be responsible for plowing state-owned roads in town — Union, Vine, and Main streets — and not the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Under an agreement approved by borough council Sept. 5, PennDOT will reimburse the borough $9,127.55 for borough crews to plow the state-owned roads over the coming winter.

The borough is to receive all the money, even if there’s no snow this winter — an unlikely scenario, given the track record of the past few years. 

On the other hand, should Mother Nature hammer the borough the agreement allows PennDOT to reimburse the borough more than $9,127.55, at PennDOT’s discretion, borough Manager Ken Klinepeter told the Press & Journal.

Klinepeter said having borough crews plow the state roads is a better option for several reasons. 

Borough crews can usually get to state-owned roads faster than PennDOT, because the state crews have so many more roads to plow throughout the region, he said.

There were times last winter when borough crews plowed the state roads first, because the roads had to be made passable and state crews hadn’t arrived yet.

Due to what Klinepeter referred to as a lack of “coordination” between the borough and the state at times, state crews would show up later on the state roads and push snow back into driveways or into on-street spaces that residents had spent hours clearing for their own vehicles, leading to complaints made to the borough. 

Finally, Klinepeter said that PennDOT encourages municipalities to plow state-owned roads in their own jurisdictions.

The borough is working with PennDOT on a number of other endeavors, like the new train station and re-paving Ann Street. Striking this deal with PennDOT can only help foster a good working relationship with the agency, Klinepeter said. 

Borough crews had been plowing state-owned roads until the winter of 2014-15, when cost-cutting reductions to the public works staff led a previous council to opt for PennDOT to do the job.

Council reversed itself in the face of protests from angry residents who contended leaving the state-owned roads to PennDOT would put people at risk. However, former borough Manager Tim Konek refused to implement the agreement, citing the borough’s lack of manpower.

Ultimately, the disasters some residents predicted would result from PennDOT plowing the state roads didn’t materialize, other than for the complaints referred to by Klinepeter.

Since then the borough has added one new public works employee. However, the department today still does not have as many employees as it did before the cuts that were made going into 2014-15, Klinepeter said.

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