Rush Township is ready to launch a vigorous sewer replacement and upgrade program along Meadow Avenue and property owned by Silberline Manufacturing that will bring sewerage in that area up to date.

In some cases existing pipes in that vicinity are so old that they're made of terra cotta. In addition, sewer lines are filling with groundwater, a situation that impedes the flow of sewage, say project planners.

On Thursday project contractor Alfred Benech & Co., Pottsville, met with township officials and representatives from Silberline Manufacturing Co. in a pre-construction meeting to lay out the ground rules for the project.

Benesch engineer David L. Horst indicated that the contract calls for a completion time of 120 calendar days. Some of the discussion concerned the starting date.

Eric Ankiewicz of Ankiewicz Enterprises, dba Grand Prix Excavating, Tamaqua, said his intent is to begin the project at the beginning of May.

"We'll start at the lower end and then after school lets out do the other part and the Silberline portion of it," said Ankiewicz. Going by that timetable, the project would not interfere with the regular school schedule, nor pose an issue with school busing.

In response to a question by Horst, Ankiewicz said no blasting is anticipated.

"If we hit any rock, we're going to hammer it."

All parties agreed that weekly meetings would be unnecessary because regular monthly updates would be provided.

Rob Jones, Tamaqua public works director and a borough employee with extensive background in the Tamaqua Area municipal water system, asked who would be responsible for potential relocation of water lines.

Horst responded that excavation for the sewer lines should be performed well beneath the level of the water lines, and it is hoped that no issue would arise concerning water line relocation at any specific property.

The contract amount is for $271,550 for the Meadow Avenue section and $53,460 for the Silberline portion.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Stephen Simchak told the TIMES NEWS he is pleased with the planning and consideration put into the project up to this point as the effort has progressed without a hitch.

In the past, facilities of Silberline Manufacturing, Physical Therapy Specialists, the Rush Township Elementary School and other sites have experienced a large amount of sewer line backups in past years due to antiquated sewer lines. The project is being done in conjunction with Silberline Manufacturing's waterworks project, although Silberine is covering expenses for their portion of the work.

A total of 23 bidders had bid on the project, with Grand Prix offering the most competitive bid.

Meadow Avenue is located north of SR54 and just west of the new Turkey Hill Minit Mart.

The project will involve replacing 6,500 feet of 8-inch terra cotta pipe installed after World War II, and replacing it with PVC and also replacing about 25 manholes.

Funding sources include PennDOT, PennVEST, a private bonding company, the Commonwealth Financing Authority, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing program and the Northeast Pennsylvania Alliance.

Periodic site visits will be made by municipal officials, PennDOT, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, OSHA, and other parties.

It was noted that the project would inevitably draw its share of "sidewalk superintendents," as well.