Bedford plans regional study

BEDFORD — A regional survey to determine community interest in a freestanding birth center is expected to start later in May, said Director Donald Schwartz told the Bedford County Planning Commission on Wednesday.

A Penn State University professor and student will conduct the surveys, which could last throughout the summer and even into fall.

The proposed birth center would offer maternity care for childbearing families not requiring hospitalization, according to an advisory committee overseeing the project.

The Bedford County Planning Commission also will recruit for members next week to join solid waste advisory committees, with a first meeting anticipated in June or July.

Schwartz said he is looking for members from municipalities, large industrial employers, recyclers, haulers, public organizations and others to join the committees to develop and implement a solid waste management plan.

Huntingdon County will take care of the upfront costs of the solid waste plan that also includes Bedford and Fulton counties.

All three counties plan to eventually split the costs.

Each county will have its own solid waste advisory committee to update the south central counties plan that expires in 2020.

There will also be a freight safety study to examine the issue of trucks mistakenly heading east on Route 30 in Breezewood, according to Rick Suder, a county senior planner.

Truckers are mistakenly getting off the turnpike at Route 70 and driving on Route 30, thinking they can continue on the route only to hit a size restriction miles later, Suder said.

The time frame for the study is to be determined, but Suder anticipates it will start this summer.

The study will include traffic counts and trucker surveys and the development of conceptual alternatives to the turnaround issue.

Schwartz also pointed out at Wednesday’s meeting that Bedford County and the other 42 counties in Pennsylvania’s Chesa­peake Bay watershed are required by the state to create a countywide action plan to reduce pollutants in local waters.

Bedford County ranked seven overall in total nitrogen and phosphorus pollution levels among the 43 counties, following Lancaster, York, Franklin, Lebanon, Cumberland and Centre counties, states a report draft by the Pennsylvania Department of States Environmental Protection.

The DEP recommends Bedford County reduce nitrogen levels by 61 percent, or close to 1.6 million pounds, and phosphorus levels by 95 percent, or about 124,000 pounds, by 2025.

“We’ll do everything we can to meet their demands,” Schwartz said.

Tier 2 counties are to begin building countywide coalitions and developing action plans by July 1.

They will be given six to eight months to complete both steps.