A public hearing on a bridge replacement project in Towamensing Township is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, announced that the county will be replacing bridge 16, which is a single-lane bridge, located along Koch Road in Towamensing. A public hearing is required to allow for public comment.

Ron Tirpak, the county engineer, will discuss the design concept, answer any questions residents may have, and accept input at the meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Towamensing Township building.

"This is a project that has been going on for years," O'Gurek said.

He also noted that much discussion has taken place between the township, historical organization and county because they wanted to keep the bridge in tact for historical reasons.

"We can't do that because of the practicality of it," O'Gurek said. "We've gone through the process (to see if we could save it or relocate the road) and found that it would not be practical or financially advantageous for us so we will be replacing it."

O'Gurek said the construction of a new bridge is expected to occur next year.

Most of the project's cost, which has not been determined, will hopefully be covered through federal and state monies, officials said, adding that they will again be going in front of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Rural Transportation Planning Organization to ask for money that has been allocated under the transportation improvement plan. Any money that is not secured through the government will be covered through local liquid fuels funds.

The county has been working to replace the single-lane bridge for two years.

In 2008, Judy Borger, director of the Carbon County Planning and Development, testified to the Northeastern Pennsylvania Rural Transportation Planning Organization on the integrity of the bridge and raised some concerns, including the narrow width, deteriorating arches, and worn decks.

In 2009, the county approved an engineering agreement, developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), for services associated with the replacement of Bridge 16,

The engineering services were not to exceed $542,000.