To the residents of Donegal Township/Butler County, the residents of PA and Taxpayers in General

Open letter to the residents of Donegal Township / Butler County,

the residents of Pennsylvania and taxpayers in general

I am totally appalled and dismayed with the actions of the local Municipal Government in Donegal Township as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. This letter is concerning the bridge replacement at the intersection of Rabbitt and Rattigan Road in Donegal Township initially designated the Rattigan Bridge T-830 Bridge but now renamed in honor of the local and state municipalities / agencies as “Corruption Bridge”. Penn dots own publication states “that you may be assured that it is our intention to achieve the best possible transportation facilities while maintaining your satisfaction as a private landowner”. Nothing could have been further from the truth as from the get go this process was adversarial and vindictive in nature. I feel my constitutional rights as a property owner were violated / corrupted by the actions of these parties, by their failing to take appropriate social responsibility, foregoing common courtesy and not following their own written guidelines. I will not go into great detail in this letter just suffice it to say the indignities and tactics utilized by the Donegal Township and Penn dot in dealing with this issue bordered on the criminal. (Words like lies, half-truths, theft, blackmail, extortion and questionable legality etc. come to mind.) My son and I finally got to meet with the engineers who designed the bridge 2 years after this process began. The plan / blueprints were set in stone at that point and the engineers were totally unresponsive to concerns of the landowners. The major concern was the projects encroachment on the existing septic systems. Donegal Township’s initial response to the landowners concerns of encroachment on the septic systems was to ask the landowners to sign a release of liability on these systems. When the property owners refused their next step was to file a septic action against both properties at this location. When the dye test was performed the Sewage Enforcement Officer only tested the sink and the shower / bathtub i.e.: greywater and not the toilets. Accordingly the systems failed. It should be noted here excavator was placed in the very middle of the old bridge, front pointed on its tracks and worked over the side of the old bridge. Neither the old bridge or its foundation budged. This was observed by numerous individuals so it cannot be denied. This action totally validates the result of the bridge inspection report. The initial estimate for the cost of the new bridge as specified by Penn dot was $1,152,765.10. According to an article in the Butter Eagle on 6-12-20 the total cost with cost overruns was $1.54 million dollars. Penn dot is now proposing an additional cost to the taxpayer to correct the malfunctioning drainage system by lowering the nonfunctional catchment basins as per the defective bridge design. Rabbitt Road is once again scheduled to be closed on 9-30-20 and the proposed repairs once again do not address landowner concerns or the property damage caused by this project. Notification of this action came from the contractor and not Donegal Township Penn dot. Same scenario that happened with the original construction proposal as these entities want to dismiss themselves in dealing with the landowner. It should be noted here that in England / Scotland / Wales the highway systems are still utilizing bridges that were constructed 1900 years ago by the Romans and also ones constructed during the medieval period / 500-600 years ago? Just because something is old does not invalidate its structural stability.

The final issue to be discussed is how our government responds to taxpayer / property owner concerns. I have contacted the State Attorney General, The State Inspector General and numerous other governmental agencies that just fluffed the responsibility off onto another agency. On November 2018 a certified letter was sent to Brian Eliis, Mike Kelly, Pat Toomey, Bob Casey and Governor Tom Wolfe. The only response received was that Tom Wolfe referred my letter back to Penn dot District 10 who were the same bureaucrats the letter was initially written about. No response was received from any of the state or federal representatives / senators although it did not stop them from sending emails requesting campaign contributions. I have consulted with 3 different law firms in Butler County regarding these issues. Not a one of them has told me I do not have a case, just that they are unable to represent me. Seems the local bar association, federal and state representative / senators as well as the courts are complicit and do not want to make waves. It is said that in seeing a wrong being committed and not taking action to correct it makes you equally complicit with those perpetrating the action. I was taught at in school that I had constitutional rights however these rights have been so eroded by the government that it is now the government of the government, by the government and for the government.

In summary my yard has been left in 3 ½ to 4 foot depression which has flooded twice since the bridge went operational in October 2019 once on 10-31-19 and once on 3-28-20. The 4 drainage basins put into my yard are nonfunctional and drain no water. I have a shed which has been left in this depression that has had 2-3 feet of water in it twice now rendering it nonfunctional. During the road construction in excess of 100 triaxle dump trucks of good creek bottom soil were hauled away and dumped elsewhere. The county tax bureau assured the property owner that as he paid taxes on the land underneath the road surface that it was the property of the landowner. That given the soil could have been used to backfill my yard and bring the lower yard areas up to the road surface thus eliminating the flooding caused by the bridge. It is only reasonable that a person’s property be left in the same if not better condition than it was before the construction process. The project design has cut off access to my rear steps, they have eliminated my ability to park multiple park cars in the field across from my house by creating a hill. They constructed the property owner a one car driveway on a pyramid mound setting 3 ½ feet above the original ground surface which has eliminated my ability to park multiple cars in front of my house as my yard used to be at road level. They have also eliminated the pull off across from my mother’s front steps where a gravel pull out had been allowing us to park 3-4 cars there. As they moved the center line of the roads they have modified the deed to my property as the old deed boundaries are from the center line of Rabbitt and Rattigan Roads. They have forced the property owner to expend over $25,000.00 to replace a septic system that other residents in the township appear to be grandfathered in under. If they can waste 1.5 million dollars for a bridge they should be able to compensate the property owner for expenses that occurred because of its construction. These entities actions substantiate the naming of the bridge in their honor. They will undoubtedly write this letter off as a disgruntled person / property owner and will totally fluff it off as well as all responsibility / accountability for their actions via mistruths and deniability. I have all the correspondence, written reports and a complete photographic record of the construction to substantiate all that is mentioned in this letter concerning this very expensive folly. I invite you and would be happy to share it all with you. This total lack of accountability, the ongoing deniability of responsibility / wrong doing is unacceptable. Just as there are national protests going on at this point in time concerning police accountability so too should our elected officials, local municipalities and state departments such as Penn dot be placed under the microscope and monitored with the same level of scrutiny? This letter does not do justice or go into all the indignities my family and I have been subjected to as a result of this project. This letter was originally 5 pages but was too long so publication so it is condensed. The original will be posted at the site location if you are interested in reviewing it.

Tom Rabbitt,

299 Rabbitt Road

Chicora Pa. 16025

Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in “Letters to the Editor”, “Open Letters” are not necessarily those of the Progress News, the Editor or any of its staff. All letters must be signed, dated, brief and to the point to be considered for publication.

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