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Tamaqua Borough sues railroad

Published October 11. 2012 05:02PM

The Borough of Tamaqua filed a suit in the Schuylkill County Court against Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad Company, with offices in Port Clinton, seeking cost of repairing a retaining wall, which was used as a boundary to the railroad's property on North Railroad Street, also known as Pleasant Row.

The borough seeks $81,860.27 in damages.

The wall was constructed by the Little Schuylkill Coal and Navigation Railroad prior to the Great Flood of Tamaqua of 1850. The suit claims the railroad is the owner of a cetain part and parcel of the property and used as a boundary line.

The suit states in April 2010, part of the retaining wall began to collapse and the borough engaged the services of its engineer, Alfred Benesch and Company, which determined the wall had already failed in several areas. Stones were dislodged, voids and potholes developed and only the cast-in-place concrete cap was holding the top of the wall.

The engineer determined that the condition was serious enough in nature to warrant emergency repair work.

The suit claims the condition of the wall created a substantial risk of partial collapse which would have caused a hazardous condition for vehicles driving past and the public, exposing them to potential hazard of sustaining injury or property damage.

The borough, through its manager, Kevin Steigerwalt, notified the railroad company of the dangerous conditions and the railroad through its agent, Wesley Westenhoefer, met at the railroad property and discussed the matter by which the wall would be repaired.

The suit claims despite numerous negotiations via email regarding the repairs, no action was taken and the borough on July 7, 2010 notified the railroad company of violating the borough's property maintenance code. In October 2010 the borough undertook replacement of the retaining wall and claims the railroad directed railroad police to stop work on the property on Oct. 19, 2010 and that the railroad refused to waive the requirement of a railroad inspector as it inspects all work on its property.

The suit states the retaining wall construction was completed in January 2011. The cost of the project was $72,91.27 which included $39,719.18 for material and excavation expenses and $33,190.46 for borough and employee equipment expenses.

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