October 19 - If Smallwood, has something akin to a main drag, a Main Street or a Fifth Avenue, then it is our very own Pine Grove Road, that long and sinuous stretch of black pitch which brings …
October 19 - If Smallwood, has something akin to a main drag, a Main Street or a Fifth Avenue, then it is our very own Pine Grove Road, that long and sinuous stretch of black pitch which brings anyone and everyone into our forest home.
Since the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed over us in early September, Pine Grove has been severed, and, with it, our Hamlet. Ida’s path across Sullivan caused huge damage here. The deluge was enough to raise Mountain Lake almost to her banks and to send geysers of water exploding downriver toward Pine Grove Road and its underlying culvert.
So fast and furious did the waters rush onward that they could not possibly squeeze through the twelve foot wide pipe underlying Pine Grove Road. Instead the tens of millions of gallons burrowed themselves around and under the huge pipe, shifting it along its axis. An amazing feat, to move a 90 foot long pipe of corrugated metal and concrete!
Since then the cracks in the road surface above the pipe have rapidly widened and the road surface has subsided several inches. All through-traffic south of the Post Office has been stopped, and a circuitous detour via Golf Park set up.
Last week I called on Dan Sturm, Bethel Town Supervisor, to ask some questions. When will repairs begin, and when can we expect a new culvert and a repaired Pine Grove Road to be back in service? What can be done to catch drivers speeding around blind corners on sleepy residential streets like Mohawk, Tomahawk, and Mohican? Why doesn’t Pine Grove Road have white shoulder lines to improve nighttime safety when drivers constantly encounter blinding oncoming LED headlights?
Dan reports that because our ex-Governor immediately declared a State of Emergency for Sullivan County after the storm, necessary repairs are imminent. Replacement of a 90 foot long, 12 foot diameter water pipe normally requires advance ordering.
The cost of the repairs? Approximately $400,000 – $500,000, which FEMA will pay as soon as the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approves the work. Once DEC approval is granted and new pipe ordered, it will take six to eight weeks before the new culvert arrives.
Dan reports that the Bethel Town Board and the Highway Superintendent have already approved the work; both financing and Town approval are in place. Work should begin before winter to sew the sundered halves of Pine Grove Road back together again. Let’s hope winter starts late!
I mentioned to Sturm that almost all potholes and ruts on our roads seem to have been recently filled and repaired. Supervisor Sturm confirmed that new blacktop worth around $500,000 has recently been laid in Smallwood to improve road surfaces.
Regarding speeding drivers, Sturm further reports that all on-duty town constables must patrol the Smallwood detour route every day. Constables are also enjoined to patrol along Lake Shore Drive, where other complaints have come in about reckless speeding.
In the meantime the Town of Bethel has requested the Department of Transportation (DOT) to lower the speed limit along affected routes. Let’s hope the DOT acts FAST!
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