Accomac Road to be repaired starting in spring 2020 instead of 2022

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
A vehicle uses a single available lane while passing destruction caused by flooding one year ago on Accomac Road Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

If all goes according to the state's plan, residents of Hellam Township won't have to wait until 2022 for Accomac Road to be repaired.

Catastrophic flooding on Aug. 31, 2018, washed away a large portion of the roadway, leaving only one lane for traffic and a steep drop into a ravine below.

"My heart goes out to them every time I go down there," said state Rep. Keith Gillespie, who represents northeastern York County, of residents who live near Accomac Road.

An unofficial estimate of PennDOT repair dates for storm damage in York County had Accomac Road slated for construction beginning in spring 2022, but after meeting with Gillespie and hearing from concerned residents, the state Department of Transportation confirmed Wednesday that work should begin in early 2020.

PennDOT plans to put the project our for bids by the end of this year, officials said.

Temporary traffic lights now direct vehicles on the single-lane portion of the road, and a concrete barrier serves as a guardrail between the intact part of the road and the crumbling remains of what used to be the second lane.

Diesel generators were the first power source for the temporary lights, and the generators were running all day and night and disturbing the lives of nearby residents, Gillespie said.

But earlier this week, PennDOT removed the generators and connected the lights to a permanent electric power source.

"I’m happy to say that’s been hooked up to a hard wire," Gillespie said.

Part of the holdup on repairs was the presence of a creek that runs adjacent to Accomac Road, Gillespie said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection must be involved in the repair process because of the creek, he said, and this had been preventing PennDOT from moving forward.

Representatives from DEP were not available to comment Wednesday afternoon.

The storms: The eastern and south-central areas of York County were hit the hardest during the Aug. 31 floods, with some areas experiencing 4 to 6 inches of rainfall in a six-hour period, according to the National Weather Service in State College.

That might not seem like enough to collapse a roadway, but all of that water flows toward rivers and streams and into drainage basins, said Michael Colbert, a meteorologist with NWS in State College.

"You could easily have 6 inches of rain accumulate in the stream and make that stream rise, in some spots several feet, based on just those inches of rain," he said.

The excessive rainfall and subsequent flooding caused about $19 million to $20 million in damage to public infrastructure across the county, said county spokesman Mark Walters.

Hellam and Chanceford townships experienced some of the most severe damage in the 2018 flooding, and several roads in Chanceford Township are still closed pending bridge repairs.