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Carbon Co. seeks federal funds for bridge in Lower Towamensing

Published March 12. 2010 05:00PM

Carbon County is asking for federal money to repair a bridge in Lower Towamensing Township.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to approve the submission of a project grant request to United States Congressman Paul Kanjorski in the amount of $1.2 million. The money would be used for the rehabilitation of bridge 17, the covered bridge, located in the Little Gap section of Lower Towamensing Township and crosses over Buckwha Creek.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said the federal grant would cover $1 million of the project, while Carbon County would cover the remaining $200,000.

"There is money available through the federal government," he said.

Repairs to the bridge would include installing a new galvanized open grid steel deck and painting the structural steel.

The covered bridge was temporarily closed in March 2008 after the commissioners learned the structure was in poor condition.

The commissioners took immediate action, hiring Stoney Ridge Fabricators, Inc., to weld steel plates over the holes and reweld the steel I-beams, as well as order two 16-foot by 10-foot bridge decking to replace the deteriorated sections. The cost of the project was initially expected to be $12,000.

But after further review, it was determined that the bridge was in dire need of repairs and is in an extremely deteriorated condition. Work on the repairs was canceled as a result.

The bridge was reopened because if it remained closed, residents and emergency personnel would be forced to take a 20-mile detour. This was due to a bridge on Lower Smith Gap road that was closed for repairs at that time.

To try and alleviate some stress on the bridge, the commissioners voted to lower the weight limit to five tons, or the size of a pickup truck or small van. The new limit became permanent on May 1, 2008 and is still in effect.

In October 2008, the commissioners voted to authorize Ronald Tirpak, county engineer, to prepare cost estimates and design for the bridge 17 rehabilitation project.

In June 2009, county officials received official notification from Kanjorski, stating that he is supporting the project on the federal level.

In other matters, the county filled a vacancy on the Carbon County Planning Commission.

During Thursday's meeting, the board of commissioners voted to appoint Robert Miller of Nesquehoning to the commission. He fills the unexpired term of Leonard Alabovitz, who last month resigned for personal reasons. Miller will fill the term until it expires on Dec. 31, 2012.

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