New bridge on College Avenue poses threat to environment, wildlife

TEMP ORARY March 29, 2012 0

March 20, the Elizabethtown Borough opened a bridge on College Avenue connecting across Conoy Creek. The bridge now joins with Bainbridge Street, previously diverted due to expansion on the M&M/Mars Factory. Although the bridge is convenient for Elizabethtown citizens and students, environmental factors affecting wildlife in the high traffic area may pose a hazard.

Currently, the road west of Market Street is named West Bainbridge Street while the old West Bainbridge Street, which ran between Brothers Pizza and ManorCare, is now called Union Street. Even though the bridge opened last Tuesday, there is still some work to be done. The project was overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the cost of construction was $3.1 million, all paid for with federal grants. Thorough inspections on several environmental factors were done before the opening.

One of the environmental elements is the duck population. Elizabethtown tends to see many ducks roaming through the Borough, particularly this year, but the amount of ducks living in the area does not come as a surprise as the past indicates. According to a July 2009 Borough meeting report, a complaint was made by a citizen about the excessive amount of ducks in the area and since January 2012, Borough officials have been considering putting up duck crossing signs. These signs would help in the bridge’s area since its location is right across Conoy Creek, a prime spot for the ducks to reside. Council member Mead Barely said, “The ducks, literally, are all over.” Along with the duck population, the safety of other animals, such as cats, is uncertain.

The bridge construction project, implemented in 2003, was paused due to other environmental concerns. In question were the underground storage tanks that may have caused issues, and an old service station located on West College Avenue that may have a problem. The Elizabethtown Borough authorized $81,000 to figure out the issue. Because of the study’s results, sanitary sewer lines were relocated and the culvert running under the bridge was stabilized continuing the operation.

Conoy Creek has recently undergone a restoration process. According to the Masonic Village website, “Restoration included removing 60,000 cubic feet of legacy sediment, re-establishing floodplains and reseeding the area with native plant species.” Franklin & Marshall College and Johns Hopkins University scientists and professors participated in this process. The project was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener grant and endorsements from Masonic Village.

The restoration of Conoy Creek and the duck population is still in question. In July 2009, after the duck population complaint, Mount Joy Borough Manager Mark Heister reported the ducks were being controlled. The Borough Council is delaying the decision about putting up duck signs until further notice. They are waiting to see how to proceed this spring. Police Chief Jack Mentor said, “It is not always at exactly the same place, so where do you put up signs?” Signs around the newly constructed bridge may be the best bet. Other safety measures may be taken in the future to protect the wildlife and the creek.

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