FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2012
SCHUMER: FEMA DELAYS IN REPAIRING HARTZ ROAD IN COLESVILLE ARE UNACCEPTABLE, AND COULD CAUSE FURTHER DAMAGE TO ROAD – CALLS ON FEMA TO MAKE REPAIRS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE
Broome County Road Embankment is Eroding Away, Possibly Leading To More Damage If Left Unfixed – Guiderail Posts Are Fully Out Of The Ground Creating Serious Safety Hazard
In Personal Letter To FEMA Administrator, Schumer Urges Agency To Prioritize Repairs Immediately – Road Deserves More Attention Than It Has Gotten So Far
Schumer: With School Buses Traveling This Road, FEMA Needs To Step Up Now
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on FEMA to prioritize the repairs of Hartz Road in Colesville that has so far been neglected by the agency. The road, which runs along the embankment of a river, has fallen into a serious state of disrepair, and continued erosion underneath the road threatens to cause the road to crumble even further. Additionally, guiderail posts are fully exposed or hanging in midair, and the town has been forced to place a jersey barrier on the road to protect drivers from danger.
The current condition presents threats to the safety of area residents, school children bused to school each day, and first responders working to ensure the lives and safety of residents of Colesville. Additionally, the neglected repair and delays are added costs to the project, and threaten to delay and detour travel in and around the community.
“Almost seven months have passed since Tropical Storm Lee unfurled its wrath on the Southern Tier. After all this time, to still have significant roads in disrepair and waiting on FEMA is unacceptable. Delays of this length, that place the safety of the public into question cannot be tolerated. FEMA needs to step up to the plate, get the ball moving and deliver the assistance necessary to make repairs to Hartz Road,” said Schumer.
Hartz Road is a well-traveled thoroughfare in the community of Colesville. Since the September 2011 flooding, residents have been forced to traverse the road in its present condition. Schumer highlighted the particularly alarming fact that children on their way back and forth to school, and first responders racing to assist those in need are traveling this route every day, which provides all the more reason that further delays in the repair of Hartz Road cannot be tolerated.
Delays in repair, are causing further degradation of the conditions and allowing the roadway to fall into further disrepair, adding to the price tag for repair and time needed to bring Hartz Road back into shape. Further, each passing day increases the likelihood the road will need to be deemed impassable and closed. Delays and re-routing of traffic will add inconvenience and time to trips, which in the case of emergencies can be a matter of life and death.
“The bottom line is that FEMA has a job to do, residents of Colesville need their road repaired and to be safe,” said Schumer. “No other solution is acceptable.”
A copy of Schumer’s letter to Administrator Fugate appears below:
The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
US Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write to call your attention to an urgent matter facing the residents of Colesville, New York.
Colesville is located in Broome County, in the State’s Southern Tier. As you know, the Southern Tier was hit particularly hard last year by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. One of the structures hardest hit in Colesville was Hartz Road, a road located high above a natural streambed. Following Tropical Storm Lee, the embankment of the river, which also supports the road, was significantly damaged and the erosion of the embankment soil has continued since the storm, extending into Hartz Road.
Erosion of Hartz Road has created an alarming and very dangerous situation. Currently there are several guiderail posts either fully exposed or hanging in mid-air. This consistent erosion has also destroyed a section of the shoulder of the road, forcing the town to place a jersey barrier, or temporary concrete barrier, to protect drivers from this advancing danger. This is a problem because Hartz Road is used by residents, a local school bus and emergency services vehicles. The school bus services approximately 30 children on this route, and as the erosion continues, so, too, does the safety of the children.
If the condition of this road continues to degrade, there is a chance this part of the road will need to be closed. This closure will not only place a burden on the residents and the school bus route, it will place a significant and dangerous hindrance on the volunteer services of the town. A detour can create and additional drive time of 20 minutes or more for emergency services and that can mean the difference between life and death for the residents.
As you may know, Colesville originally worked with a FEMA team that agreed with the town’s hired consulting engineer, Delta Engineers, that a soldier pile and lagging wall configuration cored into the exposed bedrock was the proper way to proceed and that doing so would ensure the safety of the road. This proposal is also strongly favored by the elected officials and residents of the town.
Unfortunately, other proposals to fix the road, including a proposal to relocate a large portion of the road and bypass the eroded section, are cost prohibitive. In order to bypass the failed section, the town would have to receive permission to relocate the road onto private property, permission the property owner is unwilling to give and has even threatened to take the matter to court should the town apply eminent domain. This option is simply not feasible.
When considering how best to fix this road, it is important for FEMA to understand that the town has very specific restrictions placed on how it can proceed. The daily lives of local residents, school children, and volunteer emergency services are directly impacted by the road’s erosion, and I strongly urge you to work closely with the town of Colesville to develop a reasonable solution to repairing it.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. If you have any questions, please contact me or my staff at 202-224-6542.
Charles E. Schumer
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