Salisbury commissioners hear plea to slow traffic on Emmaus Avenue

Author: , WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published: Jan 24 2014 06:50:00 AM EST
Salisbury Twp. commissioners
SALIS:BURY TWP., Pa. -

A new walking trail in Lindberg Park, a plea for slower traffic on Emmaus Avenue and progress on implementing a new fire inspection program were among issues before Salisbury Township commissioners at Thursday night’s township meeting.

Resident Paul Bruchak complained to commissioners about people driving too fast on Emmaus Avenue in eastern Salisbury. He lives along that heavily-traveled road, which is a main link between Bethlehem and South Allentown and Emmaus.

Bruchak noted people can drive on Emmaus Avenue between Chapel Avenue and Seidersville Road without stopping. That’s just over two miles.

“Cars are going way too fast,” said Bruchak. “Average speed in my estimation—50.”

He and commissioners said the posted speed limit on that road is 40 mph.

“You’ve got increased traffic with the casino,” said Bruchak, referring to the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. “That’s not a good situation. The traffic has increased one heck of a lot on that road.”

He said one reason to slow traffic is that school buses are entering that stretch of Emmaus Avenue from both Dauphin and Gaskill streets.

“The traffic is too fast on Emmaus Avenue and people don’t know how to drive. They go too fast around the curve and wind up in my driveway. I’m not happy about that at all.”

On Oct. 13, said Bruchak, “some clown” drove across his neighbor’s yard, came onto his property and pushed his car into his yard. He said his car was totaled. “I’m the loser and I was in my house.”

He also claimed not enough Salisbury police are patrolling Emmaus Avenue. “If there’s an accident, they show up.”

Bruchak won a promise that Police Chief Allen Stiles will look into his complaint and may even have a traffic study done on that road.

Commissioner James Brown said Emmaus Avenue is a state road, meaning PennDOT would have to determine if stop lights or stop signs are needed at any intersections along it.

Commissioners had vague recollections of an Emmaus Avenue traffic study that was done a couple of years ago, but said that study was inconclusive.

Commissioner Robert Martucci recalled that the number of accidents may have been low compared to the volume of traffic.

Commissioner James Seagreaves said about two weeks ago a bad accident happened at Emmaus Avenue and Gaskill Street, near Bruchak’s home.

When Bruchak called Seagreaves about his Emmaus Avenue concerns, the commissioner invited him to the township meeting.

Perimeter trail

A “perimeter trail” should be completed by autumn in western Salisbury’s 20-acre Lindberg Park, announced township manager Randy Soriano.

The township’s master plan for Lindberg Park describes the planned perimeter trail as “multi-use, ADA compliant, eight feet in width and nearly one mile in length.”

It will provide the residents of neighborhoods surrounding the park with a safe place to walk, according to the park’s master plan.

The trail will connect two parking areas, two baseball ?elds, a proposed active lawn area, the basketball courts and the playground area in the park, which is along Lindberg Avenue.

Soriano said the total project cost will be close to $460,000.

Funding for the project includes $177,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and $160,000 in Green Future funds from Lehigh County, said Soriano. He said Lehigh Valley Health Network is contributing $35,000.

He said the plan is to seek bids for the project by spring and award a bid by June so the project can be completed by fall.

The manager said the perimeter trail is the first of several projects planned to improve Lindberg Park. He indicated a similar master plan will be developed for Laubach Park in eastern Salisbury.

Geese control

In a different park issue, Martucci praised the job done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get rid of a concentration of geese at Laubach Park and recommended the USDA be brought back to do some “maintenance.”

“From what I can tell, the goose population is almost down to zero,” said Martucci, “but there should be some kind of a maintenance program. I’m in favor of continuing it, at a reduced cost. They’ll send us a price.”

He said the problem with geese in the park was almost completely eliminated through a combination of oiling eggs, which prevents them from hatching, and harassing adult geese until they leave. “It didn’t happen overnight, but it worked great.”

Martucci said before the USDA got involved several years ago, the park had 50-60 resident geese. “Now I see two there occasionally.”

He said the park was being covered with geese droppings.

Commissioners will act on the proposal once USDA gets back to Martucci with details.

He said the original work down by USDA at the park cost $10,000. He guessed whatever new work would be done will cost $2,000-3,000.

First fire inspector being hired

The township moved closer to implementing its new commercial fire inspection program when commissioners approved a job description for a part-time fire inspector presented by Soriano.

The township manager hopes the first inspector will be hired within a month.

That person will have the responsibility “to put that program together and make it work,” said Soriano. “We want to start getting personnel in place so we can get started with the fire prevention program.”

He referred to the first person hired as “the lead inspector” adding that eventually additional part-time fire inspectors also will be hired for the program.

The inspection program will be under the township’s police department, because the individual hired will be deputized with arrest powers to enforce the new township ordinance.

The lead inspector will work 20-25 hours a week, with no benefits.

Soriano said the job will pay $17-$20 an hour, depending on the experience of the person hired.

Soriano said qualifications for the job will include at least three years of experience in the fire service, as well as knowledge of fire prevention, fire codes and fire inspection. He said that includes formal fire inspector and fire-fighter training and fire investigation experience.

The part-time inspectors hired for the program may be township volunteer firefighters who already have the necessary state training and certifications to fill those positions.

In December, township commissioners approved a Fire Prevention and Life Safety Ordinance that authorizes the inspection program.

In an unrelated issue involving emergencies, commissioners approved plans to add “emergency preemption systems” to the only remaining traffic signals in the township that don’t already have them.

Such systems allow emergency vehicles to always have green lights.

They will be installed along Lehigh Street, at the Regent Way and 33rd Street intersections.