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Carbon officials to accept bids on covered bridge

Published August 05. 2011 05:03PM

Carbon officials are hoping to have the repairs completed at the covered bridge in Lower Towamensing Township by the end of the year.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Randall Smith, county administrator, briefly overviewed a recent mandatory prebid meeting for the project to repair the bridge after it was damaged in June when Joseph Chiariello of Albrightsville drove a large commercial truck through the bridge and hit structural beams, snapping them off. The meeting took place at the bridge on Tuesday.

Smith said that six potential bidders attended the meeting.

Those six companies will now have until Aug. 15 to submit bids for the project. Bids will be publicly opened at the Aug. 18 commissioners' meeting.

Smith said that following the bidding process, the county expects to move forward on the renovations as soon as possible.

The covered bridge, which is located in the Little Gap section of Lower Towamensing Township, has been closed to traffic since Chiariello damaged it.

In other bridge matters, 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 Carbon County Bridge 16, located on Koch Road in Towamensing Township. The reimbursement includes $589,600 from the Federal Highway Administration and $147,400 from the state Liquid Fuels fund.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, explained that the money in the supplemental reimbursement agreement does not include the cost for replacing the nearly century-old arch bridge. The cost for replacing it is expected to be $1.6 million, which the county will seek during the 2012 round of funding that will be made available through the Rural Transportation Planning Organization program.

The county has been working on replacing the single-lane bridge, which goes over Pohopoco Creek, for two years.

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

A historical significance study of the bridge, built in 1916, was also completed to comply with township ordinances.

Carbon County currently owns 19 bridges in the county.

Over the last few years, the county has been repairing or replacing bridges that are in dire need of updating.

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