PLYMOUTH TWP. — Mother nature now has a formidable obstacle in Plymouth Township.
Two weeks ago, contractors wrapped up construction of a large retaining wall built to hold Tilbury Terrace intact as the road branches off above U.S. Route 11.
The Tilbury road, which leads up to about 70 homes, shifted and buckled in 2011 when flooding that was the result of tropical storms Irene and Lee washed out the embankment below it.
Kriger Construction built the retaining wall at a cost of $800,000. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency footed the bill entirely. The township is considered a financially distressed community under the state’s Act 47.
“The reason we got the funding was because during the September 2011 flooding … we lost part of the roadway up there. So FEMA and PEMA 100 percent funded this project,” township supervisor and road department liaison Joe Yudichak said.
Before construction, Tilbury Terrace had been the neighborhood’s only access route, and at times would be blocked by downed trees or sediment keeping residents trapped inside, said the board of supervisors’ Chairwoman Gale Conrad.
The township hired Latona Trucking Inc. to build an access road during the three-month wall construction. Tilbury Avenue was cut from East Poplar Street in West Nanticoke to the entrance on the neigborhood’s north side. It cost about $310,000 to build the access road that is now a permanent entry point for residents, Yudichak said. Tilbury Avenue also was built entirely with state and federal money.
It’s unlikely the new roads will bring new-home construction, Yudichak said.
Tilbury Avenue, which enters the township next to Plymouth Township Fire & Rescue’s Tilbury Station, will make it easier for rescue crews to get into the neighborhood in an emergency, Conrad said.
“So, basically a bad became a good, because they have a new road here and a new access,” Conrad said motioning toward the retaining wall.
Should the Susquehanna River rise out of its banks again, Route 11 still can flood, but the access road ensures residents atop the knoll can get out if they must.
“If the river comes, it comes,” Yudichak said. “There’s no stopping mother nature. At least if the river comes up, we now have an access.”
The retaining wall is a boon to areas between Tilbury Terrace and PPL’s nuclear power plant in Salem Township.
“Route 11 is a major escape route for the power plant. If this slope came down like it did in 1947, Route 11 was closed for three months at that time, ” Yudichak said.
Should there be an emergency at the power plant, Route 11 will undoubtedly be a main exit route for residents and the retaining wall adds a layer of security that the road will remain open.