Sep. 22, 2017

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Route 422 Sinkhole Update
Shortly after I assumed office on January 1, my staff and I made an inquiry of PennDOT about what we perceived to be as an increasing depression on the site of the last repair on Rt 422. PennDOT was extremely helpful and immediately sent someone to assist in the investigation and repairs were made.

Approximately one month ago, work crews noticed a sinkhole near Route 422 near the site of the prior repair. The sinkhole started the increase in size and depth within days.

North Londonderry Township, the county, and PennDOT have been working very closely together as a fix is being developed.

It is interesting to note that this site has been the location of sinkholes since the 1930s. PennDOT spokesman said that their engineers have been brainstorming about what to do about this persistent sinkhole problem. They have been looking for a more permanent fix for the past dozen years.

Jon Fitzkee, the assistant director/Senior transportation planner of Lebanon County, was able to provide us with the site map of the problem which gives a very clear depiction of the affected area.

This week, we received this update from PennDOT.

First, we were assured that the repair work on Route 422 is progressing. It has not been halted as some people may have heard. The contractor is J. D. Eckman Inc. and they are continuing to work to repair the highway.

Second, you may have heard that there is asbestos in the pavement. There is because that was a very common building material in the 1960s and 1970s according to PennDOT. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was notified by PennDOT as work began to ensure that the community is protected. This is why you will see workers properly suited and that the area will be wetted down to prevent any contamination while pavement is disturbed. We have been told that the workers operating will all wear protective clothing and that any excavated material will be hauled to a landfill to protect the community.

It is important to note that there is no asbestos in the surrounding properties.

As of the week of September 12, PennDOT provided this update:

As for our work this week, we flushed both sinkholes with water on Tuesday to clear out loose material and see if we could locate the throat openings of the sinkholes… We also finished locating the underground utilities. We are now replacing a parallel storm water pipe on the south side of Route 422. We will also replace the cross pipe from the north side to the south side under Route 422 before our excavation starts on route 422. In preparation for excavating Rt 422 we have also begun saw cutting the pavement. Excavation of the affected portion of the parking lot from the bowling center has also begun. However, we notice that the sinkholes in the parking lot have subsided another 3 feet, and we are consulting further with our geotechnical experts.

We were told to expect that the work would be completed by Thanksgiving.

On a personal note, our office is extremely concerned about the impact that the closing of 422 has on the residents on the detour route as well as the residents and businesses on the affected part of the road. I am extremely concerned about the long-term impact on the economy of our area particularly if the root cause cannot be determined.

I have begun working at the state and with local officials to see what other options we may have to ease the financial burden on the community and our residents. Many thanks to North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County and PennDOT for their tremendous cooperation during this difficult time.

I will keep you posted.
 

Legislative Radio Report/Podcast Now Available
 
Topics discussed in this week’s program include:
• Building consensus on elements of his Financial Rescue Plan in Harrisburg – the plan is aimed at helping state government deal responsibly with the overwhelming fiscal challenges now facing the Commonwealth.
 

Check That New Car for Signs of Hurricane Damage
 
With hundreds of thousands of vehicles damaged recently by hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, consumers should take caution when purchasing a new or used vehicle.

After major flood events, some flood-damaged vehicles are cleaned and taken out of state to be sold to unsuspecting customers as new or used, but not identified as flood damaged.

These damaged vehicles can legally be sold as long as they are titled as such, but owners of these vehicles will likely get lower payments on insurance claims than for non-flood damaged vehicles.

As always, if something sounds too good to be true, research the vehicle further. For tips on finding out if the car you’re interested in purchasing has been damaged, click here and click on “Auto” under “Insurance Coverage Resources.”
 

Stopping Welfare Checks to the Deceased

Recently introduced legislation in the state House aims to save taxpayer money by preventing welfare checks from going to individuals who have passed away.

About a year ago, an audit found the Department of Human Services (DHS) provided nearly $700,000 in welfare benefits to more than 2,300 individuals who had been dead for at least 60 days.

House Bill 1614 would require DHS to regularly cross-reference its list of welfare recipients with the death records maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Social Security Administration. Funds that would have gone to deceased individuals would then be redirected to help those truly in need or reverted back to the General Fund.

The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee.

Decreasing Stigma Against Suicide
 
With September designated as Suicide Prevention Month in Pennsylvania, House Resolution 401 seeks to raise awareness that suicide is preventable, improve education about suicide, spread information about suicide awareness and decrease stigmatization regarding suicide.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1,800 Pennsylvania lives are taken by suicide annually. For every person who dies of suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that affects people of all ages, and is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.

For more information, visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Fall in Love with PA’s Autumn Colors
The fall colors are beginning to brighten across several areas in Pennsylvania, helping to boost tourism activities in many regions.
                                   
According to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation.

Both in-state and out-of-state visitors can find the best places to view fall foliage and track the locations of the peak colors throughout the state, beginning in late September.

Click here to read more about Pennsylvania’s fall tourism activities.
 
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