Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Harrisburg sinkholes -- an aging infrastructure and who pays?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 7, 2013 4:06 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, January 8:

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Central Pennsylvanians are used to dealing with the challenges mother nature throws at us.  Roads that need cleared when there's snow, branches blown down during thunderstorms in the spring and summer, and the occasional loss of power are inconvenient, but are usually temporary or don't last long.  Living where we do, those kinds of things are expected.

But what isn't expected and becomes very frightening is when the street or road in front of your home collapses leaving a gaping hole in the pavement.  That's what happened on North Fourth Street in Harrisburg over the New Year's holiday.  A sinkhole cracked open under the weight of a garbage truck.  Then another even bigger sinkhole swallowed the street as well.  Not only did it make the street impassable, but it also disrupted water, sewer, and gas service to its residents.

The sinkholes were the latest setbacks for a city that has been battling a fiscal crisis and the perception that it is becoming more dangerous for crime.

Newly-elected Democratic State Representative and former city councilwoman Patty Kim was among those who blamed an aging infrastructure, that has been ignored, as the culprit.  However, the question arises that in a city with a $340 million debt for an incinerator, how can its infrastructure be upgraded or modernized?

Rep. Kim and Today's the Day Harrisburg and Roxbury News' Tara Leo Auchey will appear on Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk to discuss the Harrisburg sinkholes and what can be done about the latest Harrisburg crisis.

One other item to consider -- sinkholes are not only a Harrisburg problem.  Sinkholes have opened on Route 422 in Palmyra on a regular basis.  Infrastructure should be a concern for everyone.

What can we do about it when money is tight?   

Listen to the program:


Rep. Patty Kim and Tara Leo Auchey of Today's the Day Harrisburg and Roxbury News on Radio Smart Talk

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-08 09:42

    Email from Jay:

    Maybe the state should fund the sinkhole mapping efforts at the state Geological Survey.

    Right now there is one person who does it part time for the entire state.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-08 09:43

    Email from Thomas, manheim twp., lanc. co.:

    my question is this.....has harrisburg ever thought of a right out sale of the water utility or a long term lease to a shareholder owned utility like aqua america or american watrworks?

    i am a shareholder in aqua america and in reading their annual report, they have expanded not only by new construction buy by buying city owned water/sewer systems in cities that do not or cannot upgrade their systems.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-08 10:13

    Email from Bill:

    Palmyra injects its stormwater into deep injection wells. About 20 years ago, they refused to fund installation of stormwater piping. Their problem is primarily due to limestone geology.

    Harrisburg is due to failure of the city to provide for capital improvements over the past 30 years.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-08 10:13

    Email from Tom:
    Dr. Jay Parrish is being very modest in his background. Although currently a Professor of Practice at Penn State, he was Pennsylvania State Geologist and Director of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey for 10 years prior. He is an accomplished geologist. In light of today?s subject on sinkholes, I would suggest you invite Dr. Parrish back to talk about geo-hazards, hazards to the public from geological sources.

    Sinkholes in limestone areas, landslides, Radon, etc., and the problems they cause. Developers often don?t want to hear about geo-hazards in areas they want to develop. You might win a battle, but Mother Nature will win the war.