CLARION - Bad roads in rural Pennsylvania are nothing new but repairing dirt and gravel roads, is, and Clarion County municipalities have an ally in the never-ending chore.
The Clarion Conservation District manages the Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Roads program.
On Sept. 15, staff members took local political leaders and others on a tour of several projects.
The program helps to protect nearby streams from runoff and sediment from unpaved roads. This is accomplished by several methods including raising road elevations, reshaping banks, installing drainage pipes and planting natural buffers.
The projects completed or contemplated by the CCD incorporated many of these techniques.
The Gowdy Road project in Washington Township will prevent damage to McCauley Run, an exceptional value stream.
Alicia Ramsey, erosion and sedimentation specialist with the Clarion Conservation District said the township had requested technical assistance in replacing the culvert.
The present 70-year-old bridge will be removed. The proposed replacement structure will have a width equal to the current bank. A cement slab in the creek below the existing bridge will be removed. The new bridge will be a prefab structure that will arrive in two sections.
The stream under the bridge will allow aquatic life to pass through the channel.
"This is the largest project we have designed," said Ramsey. "It has been a learning experience for us."
Ramsey said Trout Unlimited has been a partner in many of the projects.
The Gowdy Road project will be completed next year.
In Farmington Township, the Anderson Drive project was an entrenched dirt and gravel road that was created years ago and caused problems with ditching and drainage.
Over time the road elevation dropped to a point below the surrounding area. Water is blocked from leaving the road and is entrenched within the road causing erosion and further maintenance issues.
Phase I of the project was completed in 2020 and Phase Two will be completed this fall. Part of the solution was to raise the profile of the road, which will decrease the amount of sediment going into an unnamed tributary of the Toby Creek.
"We have had no problem with this road since the project has been completed," said Farmington Township Supervisor Chuck Gilbert.
Gilbert said that in the past every time there was a hard rain, water came down the hill and washed out the turn at the base of the hill.
"Our crew had to go out rebuild it every time," Gilbert said.
Reed Road in Highland Township had a drainage problem that was compounded by the lack of outlets.
The Leatherwood Station Road in Porter Township project was the result of storm and flooding damage in the summer of 2019. Large portions of the road were washed out.
Road material and sediment laden water was washing directly into the adjacent stream.
Maria Dreese, extension associate with the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Program, said "creative" drainage solutions were employed and the road profile was raised.
"We had a lot of coordination and work on the part of Porter and Limestone townships," Dreese said.
She said now additional storm water flows safely rather than destroying the road each time there is a significant storm.
In 2017 the Clarion Conservation District was allotted $114,163 for 10 projects.
In 2018 $160,439 was expended on four projects.
In 2020 only four projects were completed at a cost of $331,390. An additional $83,804 was expended on low volume roads.
In 2021 six projects have been completed or are under construction at a cost of $306,909. Three low volume road projects were completed in 2021 at a cost of $119,812.
Townships and boroughs can apply for the program.
For additional information contact the Soil Conservation District.