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Clean-up on trail after spill almost done

February 9, 2012

Ben White, Punxsutawney borough manager, said the cleanup of the Mahoning Shadow Trail from this truck crash that occurred Oct. 31, 2011, will be completed this week. Shown are emergency crews attempting to cleanup the spill following the crash. (Photo by Larry McGuire)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The environmental clean-up of the Mahoning Shadow Trail will finally be completed this week, months after a fuel spill that occurred when a box truck crashed over the side of a bridge and landed on the trail, according to Borough Manager Ben White.

During Tuesday's Public Safety meeting, the environmental cleanup which will be completed this week.

"The company that was contracted to clean up the spill should be finished this week," White said during Tuesday's Public Safety meeting. The trail cleanup was supervised by Tracy Zents and Jefferson County Emergency Services.

The truck landed on the Mahoning Shadow Trail below a bridge on Route 119 Oct. 30, 2011, which caused the petroleum products to spill into the stream.

The truck — operated by Gerald Luchini, Weedville, for Windward Petroleum of Ridgway — was carrying oil-filled barrels and anti-freeze, which spilled into a small stream that flows into Mahoning Creek.

Zents said at the time of the accident, emergency crews used absorbent materials to soak up the spill and built dikes to contain it to the small drainage stream before a hazmat clean-up crew arrived.

The environment was the main concern of emergency responders at the scene, so the drinking water supplies did not become contaminated by the spill, Zents said.

Luchini died several weeks later.

Also during Tuesday's Public Works meeting:

• White said there was no work done on the downtown traffic signal project over the week of Groundhog Day, but it should resume this week.

There is a meeting scheduled with PennDOT and downtown property owners to discuss some questions about various aspects of the project, White said.

• Committee member Robert Reesman said he wanted to know the reason for the removal of a sign that the borough installed along northbound North Main Street that warned motorists to watch for vehicles that may be turning.

Committee member Toby Santik said there should be a traffic signal placed at the five points intersection, where Route 436, Perry Street and Route 36 meet. But council member Eric Story said installing a traffic signal at that intersection would be a bad idea, because truck traffic could never get up enough speed to climb the hill heading north on Route 36 after starting from a dead stop.

Story said Perry Street should be one way heading west toward No. 8 road.

Council member William Spencer also said PennDOT turned down the borough's request to make Perry Street one-way following a traffic study several years ago. White said PennDOT suggested installing a round-about in between Perry Street and Route 436, and that whatever is done will costs some money.

Story said if borough police would ticket motorists who pull out from Perry Street without transitioning to Route 436, that would put a stop to the drivers who "gun-it-and-go."

• White said the borough is responsible for replacing a sewer line adjacent to the Route 119 bridge that runs over Elk Run Creek.

The bridge will be replaced this summer, and the borough must pay for half of the relocation, while PennDOT pays for the other half, he said.

White said Brian Sekula, borough engineer, will be at Monday's council meeting to review the costs involved with the project.

Even though the borough is paying for part of the project, PennDOT will bid it out as part of the intersection project, White said.

He also confirmed that both the Margiotti Bridge will be rehabilitated, and the Elk Run Bridge will be replaced during the warm weather months. No timeline has been established, according to PennDOT.

The Route 310/119 intersection turning lane project will not begin until 2013.

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