Commissioners aim at intersection
At their June 3 meeting, all five Bethlehem Township commissioners gave Engineer Brian Dillman a green light to study how best to straighten the busy Freemansburg Avenue/Farmersville Road intersection. Funding for the design alone is estimated at $110,000-120,000, but can be paid out of transportation impact fees imposed on developers.
“There’s been way too many deaths and accidents at that intersection,” said Board President Michael Hudak, who supports a study. “It’s the worst intersection in the township,” echoed Commissioner John Merhotten.
Currently, Farmersville Road intersects with Freemansburg Avenue at two different locations over 100 feet apart. A person traveling along Farmersville Road has to turn onto Freemansburg Avenue, drive a short distance and turn again.
Dillman, a professional engineer, told commissioners the design phase will take 12-24 months, starting with a traffic count and analysis. After that is finished, he will have to conduct topographic and property surveys to determine the best way to straighten the intersection. It may involve the acquisition of privately owned property, which Dillman hopes can be done amicably.
Dillman told Comm’rs he intended to start this immediately because a state highway occupancy permit is needed. “When we walk out of here, I’m on the phone,” he said.
In other business, Mark Bogansky and John Bloshinski, who purchased a home on Driftwood Place two summers ago, complained their property is infested with running bamboo from a property whose owner has left the area. Though commissioners adopted an ordinance placing restrictions on this plant in 2015, this duo contended that township officials failed to take appropriate action when this unwanted encroachment was brought to their attention last year.
According to the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, running bamboo is one of the fastest growing and most invasive plants in the world. It’s hardy, too. A study by the Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research reports that running bamboo, which is actually a grass, survived the Hiroshima bomb.
Throughout Pennsylvania, numerous communities have adopted bamboo ordinances. Locally, they include Allentown, Bethlehem, Forks Township, Hanover Township, Nazareth and Wilson Borough. Hellertown is pondering an ordinance as well.
“I did the right thing,” said Bogansky of a complaint he filed with township officials last August. The neighbor responded by inserting 15 feet of aluminum siding along a property that extends 135 feet. The infestation continued.
“What we want is your help with this,” asked Bogansky. President Michael Hudak, who is familiar with the situation, said the neighbor has been notified to abate the bamboo infestation within 20 days.
Solicitor Jim Broughal added that if the neighbor fails to take remedial action, the township could seek injunctive relief in court, but not until the homeowner is given the opportunity to take action.
Bogansky and Bloshinski will return to commissioners next month, hopefully with good news.