Neighborhood residents wish the scope of the Meadow Avenue project could be broadened, but during a special informational meeting Tuesday, Rush Township officials explained that they just don't have the money.
Many residents had hoped to get sidewalks and curbing on both sides of Meadow Avenue. As explained at the meeting, the current plan calls for sidewalks and curbing on the north side of Meadow Avenue, from the Rush Township Elementary School to Oak Lane, and on the south side of Meadow Avenue, from the school to Grove Street.
There will be cross walks on both sides of the school, and also at Oak Lane and Marimer Street. An asphalt sidewalk will be added on the west side of Grove Street. On the south side of Meadow Avenue, improvements will be curbing only.
In May 2011, Rush Township was awarded a $204,000 Safe Route to School Program federal FHWA grant, administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The funds were earmarked for Meadow Avenue, to construct sidewalks and provide a safe route for students attending the Rush Township Elementary School, part of the Tamaqua School District.
In the meantime, the surface of Meadow Avenue had been torn up for repairs to sewer lines and the storm water management system, with the work designed and supervised by Benesch Engineering, Pottsville, then the township's engineering firm. At numerous township meetings, Meadow Avenue residents voiced their frustrations with driving and living along the unpaved road. Repaving was to be done after the work on sewer lines and storm water management were completed.
In January 2012, the Rush Township Supervisors made a switch to Arro Engineering and Environmental Consultants, Orwigsburg, represented by Bill McMullen. The board scaled the paving project with a temporary fix, by applying a thin coat to the road.
"It didn't make sense to pave and then run equipment such as excavators and concrete trucks over it (for the sidewalk project)," McMullen explained during Thursday's meeting. "The paving portion of the project will be bid again."
McMullen explained the timeline. Township officials must complete the plans and submit them to PennDot by January 2013. In April, PennDot will seek bids for the project. Construction will begin in June, with completion slated for the end of September 2013.
"There are going to be some people happy and some are going to be upset, but it's just like going to a birthday party," said supervisor's vice-chairman Robert Leibensperger. "Not everybody likes the same birthday cake."