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Carbon Commissioners approve utility relocation for bridge project site

Published September 06. 2013 05:00PM

Carbon County Commissioners have approved the relocation of utilities at a proposed bridge project site.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted 2-0 to approve the agreement with PPL Electric Utilities for the relocation of utilities relative to the replacement of bridge 16, located along Koch Road in Towamensing Township. Commissioner William O'Gurek was not at the meeting.

The estimated cost is $33,717.13 and will be reimbursable under the Department of Transportation grants for the project.

Bridge 16 is a 60-foot, single-lane bridge that spans Pohopoco Creek.

Carbon County officials have worked to replace the bridge since 1999, after a bus company raised concerns about the integrity of the structure. At that time, the county lowered the weight limit to five tons, which it remains today.

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, 2011, a public hearing was held to discuss the design concept, answer questions, and accept input about the project.

On Aug. 4, 2011, the board 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 the bridge. The reimbursement includes $589,600 from the Federal Highway Administration and $147,400 from the state Liquid Fuels fund.

In November 2011, the commissioners voted to amend the contract with Carbon Engineering of Summit Hill to prepare the specifications for the replacement project. That contract was expected to not exceed $737,000 $270,000 for preliminary design work, $305,000 for final design work, $108,000 for utilities, and $54,000 for rights-of-way.

Towamensing Township officials also brought it to the board's attention that there is an historical ordinance in place, that states before any demolition can take place, a 90-day notice must be provided to the township. That prompted the township's historical society to raise the flag with regard to the county's plans, and a subsequent review by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission ruled the bridge was not eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

The township then asked the county to consider keeping the bridge in place for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge, and constructing a second bridge for vehicular traffic. This option is not feasible due to costs associated with the project. The final design will mimic the architecture of the current bridge.

In June 2012, the county voted to ratify a notice to proceed with the final design of the project.

In 2013, the commissioners approve a cost revision to an engineering agreement developed by PennDOT between the county and Carbon Engineering for engineering services associated with the replacement of bridge 16. Revised total is $625,523.86, which increased under Part II Engineering and final design regarding right of way issues and supplemental surveying.

In other matters, the board acted on the following items:

• Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard gave an update on the K-9 shelter. Currently there are 17 dogs that are up for adoption at the shelter.

The group, The Power Group, donated a dog house. It also will be building a donation box and wooden outdoor platforms for the kennels.

Another volunteer donated seven-and-a-half tons of river stone to help the animals. The stone that is currently used hurts the dogs' feet. The new stone will be spread this Saturday.

Two fundraisers are also planned. The shelter will be represented at the Weatherly Hill Climb on Sept. 14 and 15; and at the Heritage Festival in Weatherly on Sept. 28 and 29.

• Approve the business associate agreement with National Vision Administrators LLC, effective the date of signing, as it relates to use and disclosure of protected health information.

• Approve the lease agreement with Diligent Fire Company No. 3 of Jim Thorpe for the rental of office space for District Judge Ed Lewis at 340 Center Ave. The term of the lease shall be from Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2023. Rent shall be $1,700 a month plus utilities for the first five years and can renegotiated after that but must not increase more than $100 a month for the balance of the agreement.

• Approved the retirement of Hannah B. Breiner of Summit Hill as the aging care manager II at Area Agency on Aging. Her retirement is effective Oct. 4.

• Approved the resignations of Brittany B. Holland, Kendall J. Juracka, Chastity Mosteller, Kaitlyn R. Sitch and Karalyn Sitch as lifeguards at Mauch Chunk Lake Park.

• Approved moving Linda A. Balliet of Lansford from the assistant purchasing manager trainee position to the assistant purchasing manager, effective Sept. 9.

• Approved moving Karen S. Christman of Palmerton from the department clerk III Court Administration position to the human resources generalist, effective Sept. 16.

• Approved moving Lisa A. Marks of Jim Thorpe from the human resources assistant to the human resources assistant director, effective retroactive to Sept. 3.

• Approved moving Stacy L. Vees of Palmerton from a part-time security officer in the sheriff's office to collection clerk II in the Bureau of Collections/Clerk of Courts office, effective Sept. 16.

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