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WESTTOWN — Those gaping holes in the roadways have become hard to dodge lately, but Westtown Township has put in a lot of work to try and take care of that problem.
At least the ones it can take care of.
“We’ve had quite a few potholes surface after the ground thawed out,” said Mark Gross, roadmaster of Westtown, during the monthly Board of Supervisors meeting April 6. “Our potholes have been filled and rectified. We still have a few small ones that are continuing to open up and I think that will be the case over the next month. So far, I think we’re miles ahead of neighboring towns on that.”
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The township has even been in pursuit of road paving, however those decisions won’t be made until it receives some figures back.
However state roads, which are handled by PennDOT, have not received the same type of attention.
“I noticed that some of (the potholes) were taken care of on 926, but I don’t know if you (Gross) can continue to pressure them,” said Thomas Haws, Jr., Westtown police commissioner. “It seems like they only filled certain ones. The ones that they filled are starting to open back up. If you go on the other side of 202 on 926, they haven’t touched that area, as well as on 202 and some areas of 352 within the township. They’re just some of the state roads that I drive on on a daily basis.”
Gross and Township Manager Rob Pingar attended a meeting with the local representative and PennDOT and the maintenance department.
What they learned wasn’t exactly good news.
“(PennDOT) is being inundated with complaints from all over, as you can imagine,” Pingar said. “They have finite resources to do the pothole repairs. They go with their own maintenance forces and don’t contract out. I suggested contracting out and they said they couldn’t because the union would never approve it because it would be taking work away from them. So if there are more potholes, it will take longer to fix with the existing staff that they have.”
Gross figured out that PennDOT is doing a rotation around the townships in Chester County and should swing by Westtown again soon.
“If you do the math with the municipalities and the assignments they have in Chester County, they basically get to each municipality about once every nine or 10 days,” he said. “It might take a while. I think we’re lucky to see them at that frequency.”
Pingar noted that, though potholes are the most well-known road issue, it isn’t the only one which has sprung up this winter.
“There’s different kinds of road failures,” he said. “We have the other failures that are occurring on 926 and elsewhere where the (road) is peeling away. (PennDOT) informed us that they don’t really have the equipment to patch them because they are not holes. I got the message that they’re kind of just leaving them. Unless they go back to the milling machine and literally mill it and overlay it with something larger, they’re kind of going to stay that away until they become a hole and then they can fill the hole.”
Haws, who is just one of many who spends time on those failing roads, was not happy with the answer from PennDOT.
“The answer that ‘we don’t have the appropriate equipment to address that’ doesn’t sit nicely with me,” he said. “Those are potential safety concerns when you’re driving. It’s like a large, flat hole.”
Pingar tried to find out more information if any of Westtown’s state roads would be up for repair, but didn’t receive a promising response.
“(PennDOT) does admit that they’re getting inundated with calls about 926,” he said. “The biggest, long-term disappointment is when I learned that 926 is not on this year’s plan for milling and overlay. It has been delayed for years.”
For now, the Board advises residents to continue making phone calls to PennDOT about any road issues.