Carbon County officials are moving forward with the replacement of a 97-year-old bridge in Towamensing Township.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Monday afternoon, the board voted on three motions regarding bridge 16. Bridge 16 is a 60-foot, single-lane bridge located along Koch Road and spans Pohopoco Creek.

The first action was to adopt a resolution regarding the acquisition of necessary right-of-way for reconstruction of the bridge.

The second was for authorizing Nothstein to sign a waiver of rights concerning a portion of property necessary for the project; and third was authorizing Keystone Acquisition Service Corp. to forward letters of authorization for acquisition of the right-of-ways to the property owners on behalf of the county.

Commissioner William O'Gurek said that the replacement of the bridge has "been a long time coming."

Carbon County officials have worked to replace the bridge since 1999, after a bus company raised concerns about the integrity of the structure. At that time, the county lowered the weight limit to five tons, which it remains today.

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.

On Feb. 3, 2011, a public hearing was held to discuss the design concept, answer questions, and accept input about the project.

On Aug. 4, 2011, the board the county approved a resolution and supplemental reimbursement agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for final design, utility and right-of-way costs associated with the replacement of the bridge. The reimbursement includes $589,600 from the Federal Highway Administration and $147,400 from the state Liquid Fuels fund.

In November 2011, the commissioners voted to amend the contract with Carbon Engineering of Summit Hill to prepare the specifications for the replacement project. That contract was expected to not exceed $737,000 $270,000 for preliminary design work, $305,000 for final design work, $108,000 for utilities, and $54,000 for rights-of-way.

Towamensing Township officials also brought it to the board's attention that there is an historical ordinance in place, that states before any demolition can take place, a 90-day notice must be provided to the township. That prompted the township's historical society to raise the flag with regard to the county's plans, and a subsequent review by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission ruled the bridge was not eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

The township then asked the county to consider keeping the bridge in place for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, and constructing a second bridge for vehicular traffic. This option is not feasible due to costs associated with the project. The final design will mimic the architecture of the current bridge.

In June 2012, the county voted to ratify a notice to proceed with the final design of the project.