Ashland and Salem commit to Spook Hollow Road
By Rodney L. Sherman
CLARION NEWS Editor
Ashland and Salem townships have apparently decided to keep Spook Hollow Road open and to repair the bridge that has caused much debate and in some cases, consternation.
The road is shared by the two townships the road is actually a border, with the dividing line being the center of the road for its entire length.
The problems started a couple of years ago when a bridge inspection showed the large culvert pipe under the bridge is deteriorating.
The two townships agreed to share the cost of replacing the pipe. But the small creek flowing through the pipe carries water to the "Beaver Ponds" area and the stream is considered "high quality."
The designation is means the two townships needed special permits and extensive engineering to replace the pipe.
Estimated permitting and engineering costs alone were reportedly nearing $200,000 to $250,000.
Salem Township supervisors had largely allowed the project management to fall to Ashland Township, although Salem officials still agreed to pay half the costs.
Ashland supervisors then considered a temporary "jump bridge" for the site. A jump bridge is prefabricated off-site then installed at considerably lower costs and did not require extensive permitting and engineering.
At least it didn't require those efforts when Ashland decided to use a jump bridge.
Before the jump bridge could be installed, the state regulations on such spans changed and the engineering and permit requirements again increased to the point of unfeasibility.
In July, both townships suggested they might close the road.
Both township boards of supervisors agreed there were no full-time residents along the dirt road. In recent years, neither township provided winter maintenance along the road.
However, Gary Sanders told Salem Township supervisors Aug. 5 he is a resident of Spook Hollow Road and he needs the road open the bridge repaired in order to provide access to his home and to allow access for police, fire and ambulance services should they be needed.
Salem Township Supervisor Eric Sherman questioned Sanders as to the status of the house Sanders owns on the Ashland side of the road.
Different building and sewerage regulations apply to residential homes and seasonal camps.
Sanders said the house is his residence, although he also said he has several residences.
At the Ashland Township Board of Supervisors Aug. 8 meeting, Sanders at one point said he lives in Virginia.
Sanders repeated his request for the road and bridge repairs to provide for emergency services access.
Sanders also mentioned two local farmers who need the road open to provide access to their fields and local Amish families who use the road to avoid more heavily-traveled local roads.
At the end of the Salem meeting, Sherman, who serves as Salem Township road master, said he would work on the flood-damaged road as soon as possible.
Salem road crews did indeed work the road Aug. 8, specifically the end near Ron McHenry Road.
Sanders said the work improved the condition of the road and added he hoped the rest of the road would be repaired as well.
On Aug. 8, Ashland Township Supervisor John Macormac suggested back-filling the holes created on the bridge surface by recent flooding then apply a layer of asphalt over the bridge surface to "hold it all together."
Ashland Township Supervisor and Road Master Floyd Watson said he would try Macormac's suggestion as soon as time and weather permits.
While the road would be re-opened the bridge would be passable, the matter of the deteriorating pipe under the bridge surface remains.