ERIE, P.A (WICU-WSEE/CW) – When the heavy rains fall down, the roads around the neighborhoods near McKee Road in Millcreek Township turn into ponds. With water surging into backyards, basements and everything in between.


For neighbors like Chuck Felix, every drop is a reason to worry. We first met up with Felix in September.

"People just stay home, cancel plans, stay home, watch the water, do they have to put sandbags out?" Felix said

He says the problem is caused by a constant backflow of water from three underground runoff pipes which run beneath nearby West Ridge Road.

According to Director of Planning and Development for Millcreek Township Matthew Waldinger, years ago, a 60-inch pipe was first installed, followed by the insertion of a 48-inch and then a 42-inch pipe.

 

Felix says it creates a bottleneck situation, something he and his neighbors have dealt with for several years.

But for the first time, neighbors have a glimpse, as on Monday, Democratic State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, Republican Senator Dan Laughlin and officials from PennDOT and Millcreek Township finally presented a plan.
 
            The plan includes a reduction in the amount of backflow from the pipes by gradually cutting away at the smallest of the three pipes.

It's a temporary suggestion, which senator Laughlin says would ultimately lead to a more final project down the road.

But some neighbors like Thomas Del Fratte want quicker action to be taken. He believes cutting out both the smallest pipes and leaving the 60-inch pipe could lead to a better flow.

Waldinger tells us it’s not that easy. They fear a 60-inch pipe could leave to an overflow of water, potentially flooding homes on the northern part of Rt. 20. Something he and Laughlin want to avoid, even if it means drawing out the process.

 "If it was up to me, I’d be working on it tomorrow.” Laughlin said “But unfortunately we have process that we have to work through."

Despite some tense exchanges between neighbors and the board, Felix says, he and other neighbors are relieved to finally have someone taking action for them.

"It's a huge step forward as far as I’m concerned."

 

Laughlin says temporary work could begin by spring 2019, with a goal of 2022 for the final phase. Millcreek Township Supervisor John Groh says the township is seeking grant money to help support the project and doesn’t anticipate any tax increases.

The board will now apply for the required permits to begin construction.