The roadmaster for your township plays an important role in the community. Remember that townships were originally organized to oversee the local roads. Unfortunately, numerous other duties and mandates have evolved over time and added to the local governmental plate that is already too full. I blew the dust off my hardcopy of the Pennsylvania Second Class Code and looked to see just what it had to say about the position. I found it interesting that if you do an online search of the term “roadmaster,” it only has eleven hits. Considering that roads are one of the most important aspects of the township supervisor’s role, one would think it would be more prevalent. With everything that a supervisor needs to be aware of nowadays, I guess roads aren’t number one anymore. For those of you in this line of work, be it appointed or elected, I strongly suggest you read a copy of it. You will be surprised at some of things that you’ll learn from it.
The team at Keystone Municipal Solutions is well versed on the many unique characteristics of the second-class code. If you find your municipality is struggling to meet the requirements, or if you’re concerned that you are not following the rules correctly, perhaps it’s time to reach out to us for a review of your operations. A fresh set of eyes can pick up those items that seem to just get overlooked on a daily basis.
Therefore, here is what the code has to say about roadmasters. “The board of supervisors may employ one or more roadmasters. The roadmasters are subject to removal by the board of supervisors”. Section 2302. Duties of Roadmasters.--The roadmasters shall:
(1) Report to the board of supervisors any information that may be required by the board of supervisors and by the Department of Transportation.
(2) Inspect all roads and bridges as directed by the board of supervisors. (3) Do or direct to be done all work necessary to carry out the responsibilities imposed by the board of supervisors with respect to the maintenance, repair and construction of township roads.
Gosh, only three items on the ole to do list. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it? Well at least until you realize that you have 73 miles of road to maintain and a board of supervisors that have no idea what a tar buggy is used for or how to properly set a road plane for springtime gravel road maintenance. I would like to give you my short list of roadmaster duties. I think you’ll find it a little more comprehensive in nature.
Wake up every hour to check the weather report and look out the window for snow.
Call in a crew of four at 3:00 a.m. to plow.
Call in a crew at 2:00 a.m. for a downed tree.
Redirect a plow driver to another area because a truck is hung up in the ditch.
Replace a damaged STOP sign ASAP.
Check on loggers to ensure they aren’t damaging the road.
Put up weight limit signs.
Cut brush and trees in the right of way.
Present a yearly road program for paving, tar and chip, drainage pipe replacement.
Fill in for a sick crew member.
Meet with disgruntled resident about mailbox damage.
Fix the roof on the garage.
Build a salt shed.
Advise on the purchase of a new truck.
Repair the grader, the backhoe, the roller, the truck, the paver, the mower, the rake etc.
Go to doctor because your hair is falling out.
I think you get my gist on this. The roadmaster is the backbone of the municipal operation and sorely under-appreciated. They must deal with any and all disasters as they strike the township, and quite often they are the scapegoat if things don’t go well. These superstars of the road world take worn out equipment and make them work each and every day. I am always so impressed with the innovative ways these MacGyver’s of the township can take nothing and turn it in to something. If you really want to see what’s going on in your township, take a ride with the roadmaster. He will know his roads inside and out, knows the trouble spots, trouble people and potential pitfalls that lay ahead. Let’s give them some credit for once and appreciate all that they do. “Fire this thing,” it’s time to get something done.
About the Author
David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 32 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.