Tyrone seeks to stop flooding

Council hopes for grant to pay for $3.5M project

TYRONE — Borough Council is hoping for a Rail Transportation Assistance Program grant to pay for a $3.5 million flood-elimination project.

The money is currently in the state’s capital budget but wouldn’t be available until an application is made later this year and money authorized for the project, which the borough would undertake in cooperation with SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, owner of the Nittany & Bald Eagle rail line; several industrial property owners; and a church.

Much of the flooding the project seeks to eliminate has generated complaints from residents in the area of West 23rd Street and Lincoln Avenue for years, according to Mayor Bill Latchford.

The biggest problem occurs when water — both runoff and streamflow in Laurel Run — accumulates on the west side of the railroad tracks and can’t make it through culverts and swales to Bald Eagle Creek, said consulting engineer Kevin Nester of GHD in Huntingdon.

Much of that water runs off of impervious areas — roofs and parking lots — on the properties of Chicago Rivet, Grace Baptist Church, Blair County Head Start and Gardners Candies, then runs parallel to the tracks, then away over low curbs into house basements, sometimes directly, sometimes through basement drains from overcharged storm sewers, Latchford said.

The area last flooded during a major storm in 2015, Nester said.

The work will include replacing undersized culverts that take Laurel Run under Lincoln Avenue and under the tracks and removal of vegetation from Laurel Run and from a swale on the American Eagle Paper Mills property, Nester said. It also will include streambank restoration and sediment and vegetation removal from the Little Juniata River, he said.

Work could also include storm sewer replacement, Latchford said.

Project partners could include the paper mill, Dixon Tool and Die, Gardners and the church, according to Nester.

RTAP funding can pay for a maximum of 70 percent of total project costs, according to a PennDOT website.

Project applicants must present their projects to the Bureau of Rail Freight, which recommends a slate of awardees to the State Transportation Commission for approval, according to the website.

Work could take place in late 2019, Nester told council at a recent meeting.