Special material needed to fix a covered bridge in Lower Towamensing Township has been ordered and repairs should begin within the next month, county officials report.
On Thursday, the Carbon County commissioners said that the reason for the delay in the repairs to the covered bridge, which is located in the Little Gap section of Lower Towamensing Township, is because special wood is needed to complete the repairs.
Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said once the supplies are in, the county's engineer will issue the notice to proceed. After the notice is filed, Home Solutions Partners of Palmerton, the company who submitted the lowest bid for the repair project, will have 30 days to complete the work.
Randall Smith, county administrator, added that the wood should be in within three weeks.
"A lot of people have been asking us when the work will start," O'Gurek said. "We're glad to be doing a project that is near and dear to them to get it back to where it needs to be."
The bridge was closed to traffic in June after Joseph Chiariello of Albrightsville drove a large commercial vehicle through it, causing $33,089 in damage.
It was anticipated that the work on the bridge would begin shortly after the contract was awarded in late August, but flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in September caused further damage to the bridge. The damage will cost the county an additional $7,807 to fix.
In other matters, two commissioners aired their opinions on projects within the county that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has not completed.
Commissioner Charles Getz spoke about the runaway truck ramp on Route 93 in Nesquehoning. Heavy rains and flooding earlier this month caused a portion of the ramp, which is made up of stone and gravel, to be washed away, causing large holes. PennDOT closed the ramp as a result until repairs could be made. It remains closed to date.
"A lot of money was spent up there to get that runoff to where it should be and where it was and now they're letting it sit up there and not making the repairs," Getz said. "Maybe they should put up signs saying 'Please don't have an accident now.' What are they waiting for? It's unbelievable."
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein voiced his concern for the state bridges and infrastructure in the county, which are in poor shape.
"I haven't heard anything on the Jim Thorpe bridge lately," Nothstein said. "When is that going to happen? You have the Weissport/Lehighton bridge, where chunks are coming out of it. The bridge on South Ninth Street in Lehighton –I don't know which part moved, the wing wall or the bridge itself – is about three or four inches off and now it has restrictions on it for the trucks.
"The McCall Bridge is not in very good shape either. Our bridges and infrastructure are really suffering big time. I don't know where they're going to get the funding but they better start doing something soon.
"Can you imagine what kind of nightmare we're going to have if something happens to this bridge (Route 903 in Jim Thorpe) before something gets done? We've been hearing about that bridge for how many years and I still don't know when they're going to start that project.
"All I'm saying is somebody better do something soon because we'll be paying for it in the future," Nothstein added.
PennDOT has been working on repairing bridges within the state for years, but funding and planning issues have caused delays to many of the proposed projects.