Fourteen roads in Westmoreland County communities from Donegal to Rostraver are slated for improvement during 2016 under the Dirt, Gravel and Low-volume Roads Maintenance Program, the Westmoreland Conservation District announced Saturday.
“Although this is not a road-paving program per se, it will make traveling these roads easier for area drivers and reduce the time and money municipalities have to spend on maintaining these roadways,” explained Greg Phillips, district manager/CEO of the Westmoreland Conservation District, which administers the program for the state.
The program’s primary goal is to improve area water quality, as many of these roads run parallel to area streams.
More than $400,000 will be invested this year to improve portions of these 14 roads--
-- Derry Township (Conemaugh River Watershed) Green Thumb Road;
-- Donegal Township (Loyalhanna Watershed) Harr Road;
-- Fairfield Township (Conemaugh River and Loyalhanna watersheds) Hartman Road
-- Ligonier Township (Loyalhanna Watershed) Red Arrow Road;
-- Lower Burrell (City) (Allegheny River Watershed) Upper Braeburn/Edgecliff Road;
-- Loyalhanna Township (Conemaugh River Watershed) Blasco Road and Weimer Nursery Road;
-- Manor Borough (Turtle Creek Watershed) Harding Street;
-- Mount Pleasant Township (Jacobs Creek Watershed) Misty Meadow Road and Slope Hill Road;
-- North Irwin Borough (Turtle Creek Watershed) Can Factory Road;
-- Rostraver Township (Youghiogheny River Watershed) Orr Road; and
-- Upper Burrell Township (Pucketa Creek Watershed) Whitten Hollow Road
Repairs will be site-specific and, in the case of unpaved roads, focus on preventing erosion, which – in addition to degrading the road surface – can pollute the streams that often flow parallel to these roads with sediment.
Improvements to unpaved roads may or may not include paving, but will result in a better, more stable road surface. [Photo: before and after regrading and regraveling (not paving) rural road.]
Paved roads likewise can threaten water quality when they act like channels, carrying stormwater, sediment, and other pollutants into local waterways. Work on these roads will focus on making them better able to shed water.
The roads identified to receive program funding were selected by a panel made up of representatives from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Fish and Boat Commission, and the Westmoreland Conservation District that review applications submitted by local municipalities and other eligible applicants.
To be eligible for the program, roads must be public and be either unpaved, or paved or tar and chipped but used by fewer than 500 vehicles per day. Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to provide in-kind or matching funds.
The Dirt, Gravel and Low-volume Roads Maintenance Program is funded through the Transportation Funding Bill (Act 89 of 2013).
From 1997 through 2013, the program received an annual allocation from the Pennsylvania state budget of $4 million. Beginning in 2014, the program allocation was increased to $28 million. Funds are allocated to the state’s 65 conservation districts for awarding locally. Westmoreland County receives some $427,000.
The next Westmoreland County application period opens September 1 and closes October 31, 2016. Local public road-owning entities may apply. Details are available online or by calling the Westmoreland Conservation District’s watershed staff at 724-837-5271.
For more information on programs, services and training opportunities, visit the Westmoreland County Conservation District website.Learn about techniques for reducing erosion and sedimentation from dirt and gravel roads by visit the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies website.
Also visit the State Conservation Commission’s Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Road Maintenance Program webpage for more background.