Halifax Township takes first step to getting boat launch re-opened

HALIFAX TWP., Pa. - Township supervisors Monday took a first step toward the re-opening of the boat launch there owned by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

The township will send a letter to the commission later this week stating that it would proceed with making the private road that leads to the boat launch public provided three conditions are satisfied: that the plan is as cost-neutral as possible; that the commission will study the ongoing maintenance costs of the road and the railroad crossing; and that the safety regulations meet the township's standards.

The Fish & Boat Commission closed the launch site in September after a crash that killed Trisha Hoffman, 29, on Labor Day. She was leaving the boat launch site when the car she was driving was hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train at the railroad crossing at PA-147 and Susquehanna Trail Drive. The at-grade railroad crossing is on private land and has no crossing arms, and as such, is not subject to federal or state safety standards.

"It cost someone their life to have to be doing this this evening," resident Gary Shultz said.

Those who used the launch site persuaded supervisors to proceed.

"There are a lot of kayakers, boogers, fisherman, hunters, everything that uses that launch," Dave Hale said. "It gives kids something to do rather than being out on the streets."

Some residents were concerned about the estimated $500,000 price tag for the whole process.

"We are the poor guys and it seems whenever things occur, they want to come back to us, the little guys to dig deeper into our pockets," resident Donna Rode said.

"We aren't in a position to maintain and update intersections of public roads, so we need to partner with people like the township who can be a long-term owner of a facility like this," Michele Jacoby of the Fish & Boat Commission said.

Township supervisors agreed to the first step, but reserve the right to pull out if any of the conditions are not met.

"It's not a matter of the township just taking over this road," Supervisor Ken Bechtel said. "The whole problem with this is making this a safe access."

Traffic studies would need to be completed on how to make the road safer, and the township will look into other sources of funding to pay for the process.