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Effects of Rt 903 bridge replacement outlined to Carbon County officials

Published June 27. 2012 05:02PM

Carbon County officials are learning what will be done when the 903 bridge is replaced.

During the county railroad commission meeting on Thursday, the board discussed its recent site visit with PennDOT, railroad, county and other officials regarding the proposed 903 bridge replacement project in Jim Thorpe. The project would replace the current 903 bridge that spans the Lehigh River and straighten out the curve before the bridge.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman of the railroad commission, said the site visit was very informational because the county had a lot of questions about the project. Some questions included how would this affect the parking lot, rail trail, and which rail lines would need to be removed.

Commissioner William O'Gurek said that they learned that the upper portion of the county parking lot, located past the current bridge, would be the staging area for construction companies when the construction begin in 2014.

Nothstein added that the project is expected to take two years to complete, but work on the area to build a retaining wall below Route 209 will begin first.

O'Gurek said that to work on the retaining wall, the railroad tracks against the current wall will need to be removed and that right now there are a lot of right of way issues and easements still needed before anything can proceed.

"It will be a massive project," he said."The project has a lot of planning to it and we're finding out a little at a time."

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard said that right now PennDOT is unsure how it would bring the beams in for the new bridge by rail or by truck. He noted that if it is by truck, the county's ticket booth in the parking lot may need to be relocated to accommodate the size of the trucks coming through that area.

He added that he felt the meeting went well but it will be a long process before everything comes to fruition.

Gerhard also noted that he wants to make sure the county gets compensated fairly from the parties because county land will need to be used in the project.

The 903 bridge replacement project has been in the works for years. Bidding for the project is expected to take place at the end of 2013, with work beginning in 2014.

In other railroad matters, the commission received the 2011 report from C&S Railroad Corporation outlining payments and figures for the year.

It showed that some rail traffic for shipping from businesses were down slightly, while costs were increasing.

The county railroad commission received $13,356, which represented 2 percent of the gross revenue; and $3,496 for certain real estate agreements.

Of the $13,356, Lansford will receive $3,339 through an agreement that was made with the county years ago. Richard E. Forgay, Lansford representative and treasurer of the railroad commission, was instrumental at helping to secure the annual payment to the borough when he worked on the agreement to obtain a $1.7 million grant to purchase 18 miles of railroad track.

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