West Penn Township is included in a plan to install fiber optic cables from Cleveland to New Jersey.

Ronald B. Madison of Rettew, Schuylkill Haven, the township's engineering consultant, informed the township's board of supervisors of the proposal during its monthly meeting Monday night.

Later in the session, Jeffrey A. Sergent, CADD manager for Gwin, Dobson and Foreman, Inc., Altoona, the consulting engineers on the project, answered questions regarding the plan, which is being proposed by Infra-Source, a Chicago-based firm.

On Jan. 15, Rettew received a copy of the plans Infra-Source had provided to the township from Alfonso Martinez, Supervisors chairman. The township's planning commission also received the documents.

The proposed construction will include three 1-1/2 inch conduits installed together utilizing directional drilling techniques, Madison said. Periodic bore pits and hand holes (mini-manholes) will also be installed.

The goal is to minimize restoration costs, Madison reported, as the alignment will be within the right of way, but outside the edge of pavement.

The depth of the conduit will be 36 inches, with 18 inches of clearance below culvert pipes and 36 inches below major structures such as bridge foundations.

Madison said he believed the installation would work from the west, Walker Townshop and head southeast to the top of the Blue Mountain and Lynn Township in Lehigh County.

Township roads to be affected, according to Rettew, include Atlas Road/River Road, 1st Street, SR 443 Clamtown Road, Archery Club Road, SR 895 Summer Valley Road, and SR 309 West Penn Pike.

Madison mentioned a number of concerns Rettew had regarding the project, including whether Infra-Source would be seeking the proper permits from the township, whether a bond or letter of credit be required to include the right of way restoration, that certificates of insurance be provided, whether or not rental fees should be received from private utilities for the cables. and whether or not the township could request tro be indemnified from any damage to the fiber optic lines due to West Penn road crew activities.

A drawing submitted by Infra-Source showed 90 degree turns vertically to get depth at culverts, and Madison said Rettew believes that is not possible with directional drilling techniques.

Rettew is recommending 36 inches of clearance be provided at every township culvert rather than just 18 inches, in case the township would need to replace the culvert with a larger pipe.

Since the township's anticipated Act 537 sewage facilities plan includes the Villages of Snyders and Clamtown and Reynolds Road, sites where sewerage installation would be planned, Rettew expects more detailed review of the Infra-Source plan as it intersections with those areas, Madison mentioned.

Sergent, who said he was making a courtesy call at the meeting, explained the fiber optic lines would be installed three ways: either by trenching or plowing to a depth of 38-60 inches, or in residential areas, by boring 500 to 1,000 feet.

"Once it is installed, it can provide high speed (Internet) access," said Sergent. "Fiber is still the fastest way data can be delivered."

Sergent said Infra-Source would provide bonds of security for the work and would be able to do something about an indemnification agreement with the township. It can also drill deeper if needed in the areas of culverts.

"We can switch sides of the road and can go above and below existing water lines," explained Sergent. "We would revise the plan accordingly."

Sergent added the company is also working on getting the proper permits, particularly in regard with erosion and sedimentation plans at stream crossings. "We can also help with the Act 537 Plan, too," he added.

Sergent said once the permits are obtained, the project would be ready to begin in about a month.

Secretary hired

In other business, the board hired Susan Gibiser, Andreas, as township secretary and secretary to the board of supervisors, at the rate of $11 per hour, pending the township's required physical and drug screening for employees. The posiiton had been left open by the board during its reorganization meeting on Jan. 4.

Martinez announced the township met with Penn DOT officials regaridng the bridge replacement on Route 309 by Zion Stone Church Road, which would be open during the construction, although Cemetery Road would be closed, he said.

In other action, the board offered conditional approval of a subdivision for Al and Joy Cheese, provided a deed shows the land is on two separate parcels. Solicitor Gretchen D. Sterns said it is a natural subdivision separated by a roadway.

Dale Osenbach was hired as a part-time police officer.

Lehigh Engineering was reappointed as the township's building inspector to administer the Uniform Construction Code.

James Tierney, former township chief of police and road foreman, was appointed as an alternate to the zoning hearing board.

The West Penn Park Commission received permission to use township trucks to travel to the Harrisburg area and pick up rubber mulch for West Penn Park. About 10 tons of mulch at $59 per ton is needed.

Patton and Lettich, CPA was hired to perform the township's financial audit for 2009.