A meeting to give residents an update on the ongoing construction on Trindle Road drew a decent crowd to Hampden Township's Municipal Building.
A good number of seats were still open, but a crowd of citizens and business owners were awaiting the update from members of the Hampden Township Board of Commissioners and the organizations overseeing the projects. The projects have become infamous for often bringing traffic to a halt and hurting foot traffic for local businesses, along with experiencing several delays and pushing back completion times.
“The sewer project has experienced several delays,” said Al Bienstock, president of the Hampden Township Board of Commissioners. “Our contractor encountered, some of which we knew about in advance and some we didn’t, really heavy rock formations. On some days, they were able to put about 12 feet of pipe down, and on other days, 50.”
The result, according to Bienstock, was the project taking a lot longer than was originally anticipated. Michael Mehaffey, senior project engineer for Gannett Fleming, gave a brief update on the sewer project on Trindle Road. As of Thursday evening, he said the update he received indicated that the installation of the sewer main had been completed and tested.
“The work activity that remains in this area will be related to paving moving forward, but as far as the disturbance caused by the installation of piping, that has been completed,” Mehaffey said.
Mehaffey also cited the large amounts of hard rock that was encountered, as well as the depths that the pipe were installed at, as obstacles for the project. He said the rock had been anticipated before the work began, but the depth of the rock along where work would be done was difficult to gauge.
While blasting may have been a quicker alternative, Mehaffey said safety concerns prevented crews from using the tactic.
“Our specifications ... prevented blasting as a safety concern,” Mehaffey said.
While he said blasting would have saved time and gotten the project done quicker, foundations of houses were at risk and said that not blasting was “appropriate,” considering the safety of residents.
John Thomas, vice president of the Hampden Township Board of Commissioners, agreed with not blasting, citing remnants of gasoline along the underground of Trindle Road that may have caused hazardous conditions.
“Blasting, we didn’t think, was a safe thing to do,” Thomas said.
Depending on the weather, Mehaffey said the base course of paving and smoothing out Trindle Road would be completed before winter weather begins to pick up.
“The final (paving), of course, is going to be done in conjunction with PennDOT’s project in the spring,” Mehaffey said.
Township Manager Keith Metts said the sewer project is taking place in the westbound lane of Trindle Road. He also mentioned the restrictions on the contractor’s work hours, and said additional crews, different types of equipment and enabling them to work on weekends and evenings were some ways that they worked with the restrictions.
“At all times, when we were on the roadway, there was a project inspector from PennDOT who made sure that the contractor was compliant with what’s called our highway occupancy permit and the regulations for lane closures,” Metts said.
He also said an inspector from Gannet Fleming was on-site to ensure all work was being done as per the township’s specifications.
Joseph Woodward, field operations manager of Pennsylvania American Water, gave an update of the waterline project on Trindle Road. As far back as 1988, he said that the waterline along Trindle Road experienced 38 leaks, ranging from service leaks to main breaks. The project on Trindle Road was to replace 8,600 feet of 8-inch pipe with 12-inch pipe — so far, he said 7,000 feet of pipe have been replaced. Once the main is fully installed, Woodward said it will be filled, tested and then bacteria-tested to ensure it is safe. Once everything is replaced, temporary paving will be placed until PennDOT paves the road in the spring, which Woodward said will be covered through a cost share with Hampden Township.
The majority of the work for the waterline project, according to Woodward, takes place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday to Thursday evenings.
“They’re working overnight hours to try to minimize the disturbance to traffic and to businesses along there,” he said. “For the people that live along there, I want to apologize. I know it’s been loud, it’s been very inconvenient ... construction of this sort is never very considerate to the residents that live along there.”
Woodward said that while sewer work is not involving as much deep digging as the sewer project, rock is also being encountered. He said that work should be finished sometime in February. Once that work is finished, the road will be paved by PennDOT.
“When they complete their work, we’ll come in there and provide any leveling course as needed of the existing roadway, and then overlay it with two inches of final wearing course,” said Michael Zanella, project manager for Pennsy Central of Pennsy Supply.
He said that paving work would be done from Sheely Lane to the railroad tracks in Hampden Township - Mechanicsburg line. He estimated that work would begin in mid-February to the beginning of March, depending on the completion of the other projects and weather permitting.
After the updates on the projects were given, Bienstock opened the floor to questions in what he said was the most important part of the evening. Citizens and businesses owners from Trindle Road wasted no time in criticizing the lack of communication from the township and contractors.
“Communication with the sewer contractors has been horrible,” said Charles Irvin, a resident of Trindle Road.
He went on to describe how a trench was recently dug at the end of his driveway, which essentially blocked him and his family from entering or leaving his driveway. He said he was never notified of the trench being dug.
“We were blocked in and out of our homes ... with no notice ahead of time,” he said.
E. Carla Bretz, another resident of Trindle Road, had a closer encounter with a trench. As she went to turn into her driveway, her new car promptly went into a trench.
“New Cadillac SRX. I was furious and that was the first time that I had an accident with any vehicle in my life,” Bretz said.
Barry Dobb, owner of Today’s Home and Leisure Products along Trindle Road, also criticized the board of commissioners and contractors for the lack of communication. He said the grand opening of his business, which moved to its current location on Trindle Road in the latter part of 2012, was hurt due to construction outside of his business on the same day. He also said business has been affected due to the ongoing construction.
“It would not have changed my purchasing that property, but it certainly would have changed the buying price had I known how much business I was going to lose,” Dobb said. “Communication has been pathetic.”