As Route 100 winds its way up the hill from Macungie in southern Lehigh County, Beck Road meets the highway on a potentially dangerous blind curve.
Southbound drivers who want to turn left off Route 100 onto Beck Road have limited ability to see vehicles coming down Route 100 -- especially in summer months when corn or weeds grow high on top of a bank along that curve.
Upper Milford Township officials are aware of the problem but say there is little they can do about it.
At Thursday night’s township meeting, they responded to a note signed by four residents who maintained the point where Beck Road meets
Route100 is very dangerous, because the vegetation grows too high.
The note, received Tuesday by the township, was signed by residents Tim and Lori Measler, Sarah Bednar and Diane Felegy.
None of them attended the meeting to elaborate on their concerns.
Township supervisor Robert Sentner said “it’s a known problem” but Route 100 is a state road and the township has no jurisdiction over state roads.
He suggested township manager Dan DeLong contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to see if anything can be done to improve safety on that curve. DeLong agreed that is the best next step for the township to take.
Resident Jason Tapler suggested PennDOT should prohibit drivers on Route 100 from turning left onto Beck Road.
Someone else in the audience suggested the problem could be solved by making Beck Road a one-way street.
The farmland on that curve is owned by Glenroy Miller and farmed by Houston Lichtenwalner, said DeLong.
He said Lichtenwalner has been very cooperative, by not growing corn as close to the side of the road as it had been planted in previous years.
“He is planting eight feet behind the right-of-way,” said the manager.
DeLong added that in the past, even when soybeans were planted on that land, drivers could not see oncoming traffic over the soybeans.
Without crops growing up to the edge of the road on that curve, Tapler warned weeds may grow higher than corn ever grew.
Mohr drove up Route 100 in his van to check out the spot before Thursday’s meeting. He said his van seat is about two feet higher than a car seat, but it still was hard for him to see traffic coming toward him around that curve.
“I don’t know that I would have wanted to make a left turn, with all the traffic that was coming down there,” said Mohr.
“The corn isn’t even high enough to cause an issue yet,” he added.
“And I can definitely see that it’s planted farther back this year than it had been in previous years.”
But he said the bank and weeds growing on top of it block the ability to see vehicles coming down the hill.
Mohr and Sentner agreed traffic on Route 100 has gotten much heavier in recent years.
Sentner said more and more people also are using that section of Beck Road, which runs between Routes 100 and 29 in the township. Beck Road continues east of Route 29 to Shimerville Road.
Sentner, who lives nearby, said he has even seen tractor-trailers use that narrow road to go from Route 100 and 29, then go south on 29. He said they do that so they don’t have to stop at the red light where Route 100 merges into Route 29 at the top of the hill.
Beck Road also frequently is used by township residents.
DeLong said when township crews mow along the sides of Beck Road, they also cut weeds on that bank on the other side of Route 100 while turning around.
In addition to weeds, Sentner said the bank along that curve is too high.
But as Mohr noted: “In the winter, when everything’s dead, it’s not so bad.”
DeLong said a possible solution would be for Upper Milford to purchase additional right-of-way along Route 100 to address the issue, “but we have no rights to go and knock down somebody’s crop on private property.”
Sentner, chairman of the three supervisors, said they do not want to buy right-of-way.
In other business during the meeting, supervisors voted 2-1 to authorize paying a check for $18,400 to Atty. Thomas Dinkelacker, who represents James and Michele Krippe.
“I don’t like it, but I’m doing it,” said Mohr, as he made the motion to authorize the check.
“I don’t like it either but I’ll second it, with grave reservations,”
said supervisor George DeVault.
The vote to approve the settlement of litigation filed against the township was 2-1, with Sentner voting no.
Supervisors took that vote after a six-minute-long executive session to discuss the litigation.
The supervisors, and township Solicitor Marc Fisher, declined to explain what the lawsuit was about.
“I’d love to tell you what it’s all about but I can’t,” said Sentner.
“I’ll second that,’’ said Mohr.
“We’re choosing not to say anything,” said Fisher.
The Krippes, who are township residents, could not be reached for comment after the meeting. James Krippe is a former candidate for Upper Milford supervisor.
No anonymous complaints
During a workshop session that preceded the formal meeting, Sentner complained about an anonymous complaint letter written to him about a code issue in the township.
“We can’t act on an anonymous complaint,” said Sentner. “We don’t even know if it’s somebody from our township or somebody who has an ax to grind with a neighbor.
“We have a procedure for making complaints in the township and they need to sign their name to a complaint.”
“Without a signature, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on,” said DeVault.
Copies of Upper Milford’s code enforcement policy and zoning complaint forms were available at the meeting.
Sentner announced that the policy and complaint forms also are available at the township office and on its website.