Crumbling Fire Tower Road promises to get worse

Milfor supervisors insist that Columbia pay for repairs after compressor upgrade

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  • Cracks along Fire Tower Road in Milford Township. (Photo by Charles Reynolds)




  • Milford compressor station (Photo by Charles Reynolds)



They have “an obligation to do it."
Supervisor Gary Clark

By Charles Reynolds
— Milford Township supervisors are worried about the cracked condition of Fire Tower Road, which will be getting heavy use when the Columbia Pipeline Group starts work on the Milford compressor station upgrade.

Along the nearly two-mile stretch of road, the gas company will bring in equipment weighing 80,000 pounds or more for the better part of a year. All township roads are rated at a capacity of only 10,000 pounds.

Supervisor Gary Clark has been the township's point person in talks with Columbia's parent company, NiSource. He wants to ensure the company builds a station that is environmentally sound and safe for residents. He also expects the company to “do the right thing” and comply with the township's request to repave Fire Tower Road after the upgrade is completed.

Clark feels it's not just an option for the company. They have “an obligation to do it," he said.

Scott Maciak, the municipal services specialist for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, consulted with supervisors Clark and Gary Williams. He said it will cost the township $300,000 to properly pave the length of road.

“That would take (the township) years and years to repave this road to get it back to where it should be” after the work Columbia will be doing, said Clark.

Even after the compressor is completed, Clark said, Columbia will be bringing heavy equipment up the road from time to time for service and maintenance.

The road is showing serious signs of wear with major cracks and breaks, especially near the entrance to the existing compressor station.

Several years ago, when Columbia did work along the pipeline, their contractor, Henkles and McCoy, gave the township $8,000 for road repair. Yet the road today, especially after the recent winter, shows serious signs of disintegration.

Scott Castleman, a spokesperson for Columbia Pipeline Group, said the company still needs to check out the road.

"On projects such as this we inspect the impacted road before construction to document the current condition," Castleman wrote in an email to the Courier. "We then restore the road to current or better condition once construction is complete."

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