Broomall’s Dam Update: PennDOT Funding

Nov 14, 2015 by

PennDOT May Not Pay for Dam Replacement if a Bridge is Less Expensive

Responding to the decision by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) to breach Broomall’s dam by June of 2016, Timothy Stevenson, Design Portfolio Manager for District 6 of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), announced that PennDOT was not willing to fully fund the reconstruction of the dam if the alternate option of building a bridge proved to be less expensive.

In an e-mail sent to PennDOT contractor Sidney New on October 16, 2015, and copied to Media Borough and Delaware County, Mr. Stevenson noted that the project’s draft environmental document identified two primary needs: 1) addressing transportation network deficiencies and 2) resolving unsafe dam conditions. “The DEP’s proposed action [to breach the dam] should resolve the second need for the project, leaving only the first need to be addressed,” wrote Stevenson.

Citing a lack of adequate funding to address all of the region’s current bridge repair needs, Stevenson stated “…I cannot approve additional expenditures beyond what is needed to address the transportation network deficiencies…should the cost [of dam replacement] exceed the cost of a bridge, I can only see A-183 funds [Local Bridge Funds] being applied to a prorated portion of the total project costs.”

Click to read the entire October 16 email from PennDOT.

In a subsequent telephone conversation with a representative of the Friends of Glen Providence Park, Mr. Stevenson confirmed PennDOT’s intention to only provide prorated funding for the amount of the cheapest option (e.g. if dam replacement cost $3 million dollars and constructing a bridge cost $2 million dollars, PennDOT would only pay out $2 million. The same formula would apply if dam replacement proved to be cheaper than constructing a bridge).

Mr. Stevenson’s e-mail leaves many questions unanswered. 1) What bridge design will be used as the basis for a cost comparison with dam reconstruction? 2) Who will conduct an independent cost analysis? 3) If a cost analysis did determine that building a bridge was the less expensive option, would a dam still be constructed? 4) If yes, which party (or parties) would pay the balance between PennDOT funding and the full cost of dam replacement?

The Friends of Glen Providence will be seeking answers to these and other questions that arise regarding the now uncertain funding plan for the Broomall’s dam project.

Friends of Glen Providence Park continues to believe that dam removal, stream restoration, and a community conversation regarding an environmentally sensitive bridge between Media Borough and Upper Providence Township is the best course of action.

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