Northampton Press

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Lehigh Twp. supervisors approve Vision Zero plan

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by HANNA O’REILLY Special to The Press in Local News

Police will work with group, PennDOT to help reduce number of crashes, fatalities

Lehigh Township Police Chief Scott Fogel conducted a presentation on traffic safety at the board of supervisors meeting Feb. 26, providing statistics of crashes and other traffic issues in the township and offering ways the police force and the community can work together to reduce these numbers.

Following Fogel’s presentation, Sherri Penchishen, who works with areas on traffic and road-related issues, spoke.

A member of a group called Vision Zero, Penchishen explained to residents and the supervisors how Vision Zero plans to help Lehigh Township with lowering specific roadway and traffic issues. Vision Zero is a multinational project that works toward changing the number of major fatalities in a multitude of towns and cities. The group will be working with Lehigh Township and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the next few years.

Supervisor Cynthia Miller raised concerns and questions about the Vision Zero plan.

“I read through the plan that you presented, and I understand what you’re trying to do, but four out of the five roads you presented are (owned and maintained by) PennDOT. When PennDOT designs their roads, we give our suggestion, and they don’t listen,” she alleged.

Miller’s attitude toward the project is that PennDOT needs to set the bar a little higher on coming to the township and helping with the roads. Penchishen and Fogel stressed that this project will require the efforts from both sides — PennDOT and Lehigh Township — in order to address the issues and fix them for the community.

Supervisor Chairman Darryl Snover asked how the project would be funded.

“We are funded through PennDOT, so we are grant funded,” Penchishen said.

Snover was very much in favor of the idea, as were supervisors Keith Hantz and Mike Jones. Snover made a motion in support of the Lehigh Township Vision Zero plan. The motion was passed.

In other business, the supervisors discussed a requirement to cover Lehigh Township’s volunteer firefighters under workers’ compensation. For the township firefighters to be covered during events and activities, it is the responsibility of the township to approve the events. The board discussed fundraising activities, with a majority agreeing that the fire department should be approved for workers’ compensation, as they have been for many years prior.

Miller disagreed.

“I don’t understand why I’m paying for people to do fundraising,” Miller said.

She explained that she gives her time for fundraising events, but she, along with others, are not paid out of workers’ compensation funds.

Snover explained they are volunteering their time for the benefit of the fire company and the benefit of the community and, therefore, should be covered.

The township pays approximately $40,000 a year for the fire department’s workers’ compensation.

The bid for the Ash Bridge rehabilitation project has been granted to Sikora Brothers Paving Inc.

Max Lampenfeld, a member of Lehigh Township Planning Commission, has submitted his letter of resignation.

A motion was made and approved that established the speed limit on Rinker Road as 25 mph.