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Tinicum hopes to balance dirt road charm with the dust it creates


The Northeast recently struggled through unpleasant smoke and haze from Canada’s recent wildfires, but Tinicum has long been fighting its own form of pollution — dust from its numerous dirt and gravel roadways.

Normally, the township budgets call for regular warm weather road treatments utilizing liquid calcium chloride.

“It doesn’t solve the problem, but if definitely helps,” stated Township Manager Teri Lewis, who added the amount used has a negligible impact on waterways and vehicles.”

So, what’s the problem? There are several.

First, in recent years, the price of calcium chloride skyrocketed to over $6 a gallon, with a minimum order of 4,000 — a $25,000 to $30,000 ticket price.

“We simply could not afford this and did not even budget for treatments for 2023,” Lewis said.

However, the township was blindsided by a large price drop that put the cost more in line with historical levels.

Lewis requested board authorization for a budget amendment to purchase more calcium chloride for immediate treatments, at a far more acceptable cost of $5,200.

Chairman Richard Rosamilia, who lives on an unpaved road, concurred that the dust is “pretty bad.”

Other residents spoke of ongoing nightmares for their families, especially in areas of active warm weather construction. Resident Renee Shortel lives on Permanent School Road, where construction projects are currently underway at both ends of the dusty road.

“We feel like our road is now a construction thruway,” she said.

With some success, Lewis spoke to select construction companies about relief, but clearly more needs to be done.

“Sometimes the dust is in a more manageable place,” stated Shortel. “But with construction trucks traveling back and forth on both ends of our road, conditions are just awful. Our kids can’t walk home from the school bus some days.”

In discussions with Lewis and Supervisor Eleanor Breslin, Shortel wondered if a fee on construction permits could cover calcium chloride treatments on specific unpaved roads.

Supervisors agreed with that approach and Rosamilia asked Solicitor Steve Harris to find out if the township could also require construction companies to use alternate paved roads whenever possible.

Lewis also brought up the need for more speed controls on these roads as “it’s not only the dust. It also takes longer when braking to stop on loose dirt and gravel.”

No one disagreed, but with a needed ordinance, traffic studies and PennDOT’s LTAP program involvement, that would be a considerably longer-term fix.

The board approved the additional budget for roadway treatments and will continue discussions on other solutions.

In other news, Tinicum joined the list of Bucks County municipalities that has endorsed an amendment to the Sterling Act to capture a portion of the earned income tax its residents currently pay to the City of Philadelphia.

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