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Carbon votes to accept $700,000 grant to repair High Bridge

Published December 03. 2010 05:00PM

The Hometown High Bridge in Schuylkill County will be getting an upgrade in 2011.

On Thursday, the Carbon County Railroad Commission, which owns the High Bridge as part of its railroad land, voted to accept the $700,000 Capital Projects and Rail Freight Assistance Program Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, who also chairs the railroad commission, said that the money represents 70 percent of the total cost of the project. The remaining $300,000 that is needed to complete the $1 million rehabilitation will come from Reading and Northern Railroad, the railroad who utilizes the High Bridge during freight and passenger trains.

O'Gurek said since the commission's meeting on Nov. 23, he "received notice from Reading and Northern that they have made the commitment of paying the $300,000."

The board then unanimously voted to send notice that they will accept the grant. The project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2011.

O'Gurek said the project will help make the bridge safer for train traffic.

"Without that bridge in good shape, it causes a problem with getting to and from certain destinations," he said.

The county will now submit the paperwork to PennDOT to accept the grant.

Carbon County officials have been working on securing funding to rehabilitate the 185-foot bridge for years. The first two times the county applied for RFAP monies, the project was not approved.

This last time, the railroad applied for the $1 million grant on behalf of the county railroad commission.

In December, the county received notice that it would receive $435,456 of the $1 million grant that was applied for through the RFAP program. The grant was still nearly $600,000 less than what the county needed for the project.

In March, the county received notification from PennDOT, stating that "on behalf of Governor Rendell, the Bureau of Rail Freight, Ports and Waterways is pleased to inform you that your application for funding assistance under the 2010 Rail Freight Assistance Program has been selected to received additional funding of $264,544."

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