Liability or road safety

By Z.A . KOHLOA
Posted 6/9/21

DAMASCUS, PA — On May 17, when the Damascus Board of Supervisors meeting opened the floor to public comments, Vincent Grande addressed the board. Grande was determined to get results for property owner and 25-year, part-time Damascus resident Claudia Newton.

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Liability or road safety

Posted

DAMASCUS, PA — On May 17, when the Damascus Board of Supervisors meeting opened the floor to public comments, Vincent Grande addressed the board. Grande was determined to get results for property owner and 25-year, part-time Damascus resident Claudia Newton.

“If I was on the other side of the river, I would be here as an attorney. But I am not licensed in Pennsylvania,” Grande said to the board. “There is a Jersey barrier on Jurgenson Road preventing Ms. Newton from accessing the last 150 to 200 feet of her property.”

Newton and some other residents attending the meeting spoke of the inadequacy of Jurgenson Road, the concern for safety turning around on Jurgenson Road and the insufficiency of the Jersey barrier, as well as it being an eyesore.

Jurgenson Road was not up to par for easy accessibility for emergency vehicles or Department of Transportation vehicles, owing to road width and quality. Due to this, a new road was built on the other side of the hill, Kay Road.

Grande expressed having had difficulty backing out of Jurgenson Road. He also talked about how the past winter, a Damascus municipal truck slid off Jurgenson Road, damaging part of the road. In turn, the Jersey barrier was placed on Jurgenson Road, and the road was closed to through traffic.

“It is my understanding, from speaking to local council, Ms. Newton has an implied if not an actual easement to access all of her property and to her parking space which she is currently being prevented from using due to the Jersey barrier. An extremely unsafe situation has been created. If the town’s truck damaged the road—”

“I’m going to cut you off,” said Joseph Canfield, chairman of the board. “This started five or six years ago on Jurgenson Road. We’ve been all through this. OK?

“I still have some time to my three minutes,” Grande said. “With all due respect.”

“OK? We’ve been all through this,” Canfield said again. “That road has been closed.”

“But I can’t use my property,” Newton said.

Resident Claudia Newton asked the Damascus Township Supervisors to move the Jersey barrier that prevents her from using a turnaround on her property.
Resident Claudia Newton asked the Damascus Township Supervisors to move the Jersey barrier that prevents her from using a turnaround on her property.

A man attending the board meeting interjected loudly, “That’s not fair to cut him off, sir.” Then Grande reminded Canfield again that he still had three minutes.

Grande continued to say that, because it was the town’s truck that damaged the road, it is up to the town to fix it.

Steven Adams, the operational supervisor, said that, in that area, the road is built on railroad ties and stone.

“If the railroad ties had been any good, the railroad would have kept it,” Adams said. He also stated that the township truck going off the road had nothing to do with the shape of the road. The road was shrinking before that incident.

Adams said, “The issue is liability to the township. There’s an eagle’s nest above that area. There is a law regarding that and the only time we can do work is in January. The only way we can fix that road is to buy those properties.”

Grande asked, “Is it not a township road? Why can’t you just move the Jersey barrier 200 feet up, so my client can use her parking space and turn around?”

Adams asked him, “Who is going to be responsible for someone going off there then?

Adams conveyed that he understood what Grande and Newton were saying. However, not being able to back up is a problem for a lot of people in that area.

When Grande emphasized the road’s hazardous potential and his concern for his client’s wellbeing, Adams pointed out that the Jersey barrier was placed there for Newton to be able to get to her property.

“But she/I can’t get out of it,” Grande and Newton both said at the same time.

“You can go off the road now when backing up,” Newton said.” I can’t use my property, Steve. I am 65 years old. I have no place to park. I can’t back up and there are ditches on both sides of the road.

Newton said if she had a turnaround, it would prevent any problems for her and for anyone else on that road.

The exchange came to an end with Adams saying he would talk to the board’s solicitor and Canfield promising to look at the road.

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