Sinkhole Rankles Residents

By on May 30, 2018

A huge sinkhole at 530 W. Second Ave. has opened up another big problem for Lititz Borough.

 


More than two dozen residents of nearby Moravian Manor attended Tuesday’s Lititz Borough Council meeting to voice their complaints about the detour that has been in place shortly after a sinkhole opened on West Second Avenue in March.

At the May 29 meeting of Lititz Borough Council, more than two dozen residents of nearby Moravian Manor attended to voice their complaints about the detour that has been in place shortly after the sinkhole opened on March 17. That detour takes drivers up Moravian Avenue, a narrow side street lined with quaint cottages. Residents of the cottages, as well as those living at Moravian Manor apartments and assisted living, are concerned about their safety.

“I can’t even get out of my driveway,” said Moravian Avenue resident Sally Furlow, adding that she has seen 18-wheeler tractor trailers trying to drive the narrow detour. “One couldn’t make the corner and had to back up.” The detour was put into effect after a sinkhole occurred at the home of Amy and David Gerhart in March. Since then, the Gerharts and Lititz Borough have been in a stalemate trying to determine who has the legal responsibility for paying to repair sinkhole damage.

The detour takes drivers along West Orange Avenue near Warwick High School and up Moravian Avenue. Residents are upset about the speed of drivers and the volume of traffic that was never intended to be on such a narrow street. One man was walking his dog and was nearly hit when a car was driven around an UPS delivery truck. Others have waited to back up from their driveways or have nearly been hit when they were turning into their driveways.

“Life on Moravian Avenue was peaceful and quiet,” said Furlow. “Not anymore.”

Tom Trayer, a resident of Moravian Manor, spoke on behalf of the residents who attended the meeting. Many others expressed their concerns.

“We had no communication, no notice (from the borough), we were blindsided,” said Trayer, while another resident Ed Kiehl shared his anxiety that they have no idea if the road closure due to the sinkhole on West Second Avenue will take weeks, months or even years to resolve. In the meantime, they want answers, or at least, some sort of temporary solution. A few suggestions included increasing police presence, putting up a temporary three-way stop sign at Moravian Avenue and Lemon Street, installing speed regulation sensors to warn drivers who are speeding, using moveable speed bumps to slow traffic and possibly changing the detour to another road, like Spruce Street.

Council president Shane Weaver said that Spruce Street already has a serious problem with accidents and that would make that issue even worse. He noted that the borough has been meeting with insurance companies, attorneys, geologists, contractors and others to get the sinkhole issue resolved.

“We are moving as quickly as possible,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Police Chief Kerry Nye has been consulting with public works manager Andy Garner to come up with temporary solutions to the detour problem for Moravian Manor residents. He will be looking into some of the ideas that were suggested, such as temporary speed bumps and speed sensors. He will also be providing more speed enforcement and increase the police presence on Moravian Avenue at both Orange and Lemon.

“We have two issues here, the speed and the volume,” said Nye, adding that he will be meeting with the roads and traffic committee to come up with better solutions, as well as possibly meeting with a traffic engineer. Resident Robert Key suggested that, “If we slow them (drivers) down enough they will find another way.”

One man called the detour a “band-aid,” saying that the only real answer is to repair the sinkhole at the Gerhart’s property and reopen Second Avenue. Council thanked the residents for attending the meeting to voice their concerns, and invited them to stay in touch until a solution is reached.

“We’ll all be back every month,” said Furlow.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

2 Comments

  1. Dave Gerhart

    May 31, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    For the life of me I can’t understand why Lititz Borough can’t just fix the road! What on earth are they waiting for?

  2. Dave Gerhart

    June 3, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    The only correction I would offer is that the detour was setup because of the water main break in the street. The damage to our property is secondary to the major problems that the borough has with the stability of the road. Core samples done by the borough indicate “substantial instability” 48 feet below the surface of the road. The property damage was caused by the water main break and the Borough has refused to accept responsibility.

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