Generations of our readers lived through the destructive force of Hurricane Agnes in June of 1972 and were fairly certain they would never see flooding of that degree again.
The returns are not all in, but the drenching rains that were spurned by Tropical Storm Lee equaled or exceeded Agnes's punishment in many parts of our region last week.
While Agnes was a more region-wide force, Lee's rains blazed a narrower path just east and then north and south from Williamsport.
And where those rains hit the worst, the flooding aftermath will be the most arduous. Roads are closed and bridges destroyed. Replacement and repair in those instances takes months. Houses and trailers were swept away, leaving people without homes. Thousands of people endured major home and business damage.
This was Mother Nature at her cruelest. Almost miraculously, there was only one death a woman in Bradford County though there were hundreds of rescues, many of them from the air.
No one should take for granted for even a second the incredible dedication, professionalism and courage of emergency services personnel in thousands of different situations last week that prevented horrific human tragedies on a grand scale.
And, believe it or not, the flooding and destruction could have been worse.
As a result of Agnes, the region's flood mitigation system is much improved over 40 years ago.
Parts of the region will require months and in some cases years to recover from the destruction of Tropical Storm Lee. The damage was historic.
But we have recovered from similar natural disasters and with patience and resolve the region's people will recover again.
- Williamsport Sun-Gazette
BIG RIGS, BIG DANGER WITH CELLPHONE USE
He wasn't under the influence of alcohol. He hadn't taken any drugs. And he was complying with the 70-mph speed limit as he traveled along Interstate 65 in Munfordville, Ky.
But something went terribly wrong.
His rig - 38 tons of metal in motion - sailed through the median into the oncoming lanes of traffic and crashed head-on into a van traveling in the opposite direction.
Trucker Kenneth Laymon was killed along with 10 people in the van, a Mennonite family and friends on their way to a wedding in Iowa. The sole survivors were two young children strapped in safety seats.
That was March 26, 2010.
At a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., about the crash, a National Transportation Safety Board official said the major cause was Laymon's cell phone. According to the NTSB, Laymon received 69 text messages and phone calls while driving in the 24 hours before the crash, including a one-second call just before the crash that distracted him and caused it, according to the NTSB.
Big-rig truck drivers already face a laundry list of regulations, including getting ample rest, keeping detailed log books, not driving for more than 11 hours straight and not working in total for more than 14 hours straight.
There's a reason for these and other rules: to keep truckers - and the rest of us on the highways - safe.
Keeping cell phones out of the hands of big-rig drivers while they're behind the wheel might sound like overregulation, but it's another tool to make our highways safer.
Truckers need to focus on one thing while behind the wheel: safe driving.
- The (Easton) Express-Times
TOLLING ROUTE 422 TOUGH, BUT IT MAY PROVE INEVITABLE
The issue: Serious transportation construction stands to take a turn for the better with the announcement of plans by a state commission.
Our opinion: This is potentially good news for Berks County, whose roads are a patchwork of Band-Aid solutions to problems.
No doubt the discussions about the proposed tolling of Route 422 will go on long into the night. But any discussion about paying to drive on one main road from Reading to Philadelphia should not rely on that aspect alone.
Recently Gov. Tom Corbett's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission released plans to hike the cost of vehicle registrations and license fees, increase taxes on gasoline distributors and increase fines on traffic violations. That's the bad news.
The good news is that such increases could mean Pennsylvania could get the funding it needs to get out of maintenance mode and start new transportation projects. And that could mean good things for Berks County.
Most of the changes suggested in the report require action from the state Legislature. Others include reworking the way the state police is funded, diverting some sales tax money to transportation and doubling the valid time of registrations and licenses.
The report also recommended that the state give transportation fundraising power to local governments, which would clear the way for a proposal to toll a portion of Route 422.
To make that happen, state lawmakers would need to give local governments the power to raise their own transportation money. Then Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties would need to use that new power to create an agency that would manage tolls on Route 422.
There would be four toll stations on the 25-mile stretch between the Berks County line and King of Prussia. Drivers would pay using E-ZPass at each station. Those without E-ZPass would have their license plates photographed and would be mailed monthly bills.
A trip from Berks County to King of Prussia would cost $2.65 each way. Tolls would increase 2.5 percent each year.
Money raised would pay for road improvements that would cut a trip from Berks to King of Prussia by 20 minutes each way and the setup costs for a passenger rail service from Wyomissing to Philadelphia.
If government votes to toll Route 422, someone had better do something to ease the traffic congestion. Who wants to pay a toll and sit in traffic? Perhaps the toll itself would ease congestion.
Also it is going to be a hard sell for anyone who uses the road only occasionally.
State Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Democrat, said, "It's going to come down to whether people feel that we need to invest in transportation and infrastructure and decide how we're going to pay for it."
Well, yes. That's true for so much of what we expect from government.
Dr. G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said, "This will be contentious, and it will be controversial."
But it is something that must happen, given the realities of the road construction in Pennsylvania and the fact that more often than not, Berks County has been at the bottom of the list when it comes to highway projects.
Considering the lack of money to do meaningful road work in Berks County, we may have no choice but to pick up some of the tab in the form of tolls.
- Reading Eagle