Group Worried Turnpike Expansion May Threaten Valley Forge Stream
The Tredyffrin Township waterway is one of the few places where wild trout have the chance thrive close to a big city. Now local fishermen, who consider Valley Creek hallowed water, worry about a proposed highway expansion near the blue-ribbon stream, writes Jason Laughlin for Philly.com.
“It’s a neat little ecosystem here,” commented Matt Stutzman, a biologist from Coatesville. “It’s rare.”
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has been working its plan to expand the 6.4-mile stretch from the Valley Forge interchange to Route 29 from four to six lanes, widening the median by 16 feet for more than 10 years. This could increase the number of vehicles traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike each day from about 59,000 to 100,000 by 2035.
“We think this project is needed for the safety of our customers,” said Carl DeFebo Jr., spokesman for the Turnpike Commission.
Portions of the highway are in Valley Creek’s watershed and lovers of the stream, rated exceptional by the state partly because it is home to a self-sustaining trout population, think that warm water will drain into it off the highway during storms. This could introduce even more pollution to the area and the stream, further jeopardizing the trout as in order to survive, they depend on consist cool spring fed water.
“We know better and we can do better,” said Pete Goodman, the Chair of Trout Unlimited.
The current turnpike, built in the early 1950s, has no stormwater management system and the Turnpike Commission’s expansion plan includes stormwater management through six concrete vaults and 21 basins. However, the Valley Forge chapter of Trout Unlimited think this is insufficient and may in fact worsen the runoff problem, leading to more flooding which could eventually threaten the fish.
The January settlement agreement between Tredyffrin and the Turnpike Commission exempts the expansion project from some of the township’s storm-water management standards. The township disputed the challenge in a response filed this week, and argued that Trout Unlimited lacked standing to contest the settlement.
“When we’re finished there will be a significant improvement,” stated Kevin Scheurich, the Turnpike’s Senior Engineer Project Manager.
To read more about the turnpike’s possible threat to trout, see here.
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