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Phase III of Tamaqua streetscape project begins

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    Most of the excavation of old concrete sidewalks was completed last Thursday by employees of Heim Construction Co. Inc. of Orwigsburg in the streetscape project along the 200 block of South Center Street in Tamaqua. JOHN E. USALIS/TIMES NEWS

Published October 09. 2017 12:38PM

Construction began Tuesday along South Center Street for Phase III of the Tamaqua streetscape program that will replace sidewalks and curbs and install decorative lighting on the bridge.

The project’s general contractor, Heim Construction Co. Inc. of Orwigsburg, had employees on site working on the east side of the 200 block removing the concrete sidewalks and clearing the area for the installation of electrical conduits and new concrete from the bridge north to the driveway of the Access Services building.

Borough Manager Kevin A. Steigerwalt was pleased with the progress made in a short time by the contractor.

“They’re moving along very nicely,” Steigerwalt said, adding that Heim was the contractor for the other two phases of the borough’s streetscape project.

Bids were opened on Aug. 10, with the award to Heim on Aug. 15.

The total project cost is $281,300, which includes design, engineering, construction and inspection. Most of the project is funded through a $196,200 grant from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Financing Authority with a local match of $85,100.

“The amount that we had available for construction was $198,000, with the rest for engineering and administration,” Steigerwalt said. “We had a bigger project envisioned, and when we applied for funding two or three years ago, the costs do tend to increase. The bids came in a little higher than expected, so we had to downsize the project. The main focus has always been the bridge lighting, and after that we were going to devote to the sidewalks between the bridge and Spruce Street. We had provisions for pavers and street trees. When we got the bids, we had to bring ourselves down to earth a little bit and downscale the project to fit the funds that we had.”

Steigerwalt said the project is designed so whatever could not be done at this time can be considered at a later date when funding is available.

“We’re accomplishing the majority of our goal,” Steigerwalt said. “Originally, we foresaw sidewalks on both sides of the street, we ran into some problems with parking and driveways on the west side and we determined we weren’t going to have enough money to the bridge and other stuff. We gave up on that and decided to just do the one side.”

The new streetlights will match those installed in the other streetscape area.

“They’ll be in the Victorian style. They will be a little shorter because they’re going to sit on a high pad just behind the pedestrian barrier on the bridge,” Steigerwalt said.

Since the lampposts are custom-made, it takes 12 to 14 weeks to manufacture them. There will be four lamps on the bridge. The posts are made by Union Metal Corporation in Canton, Ohio, and the light fixtures by King Luminaire of the StressCrete Group, Jefferson, Ohio. .

The first streetscape phase started in 2006 at a cost of $2.4 million. It included sidewalks and lighting on both sides of Broad Street from Swatara Street to Pine Street, one block each of Mauch Chunk Street and Hunter Street, and a half block of Railroad Street.

The majority of the funding for $1.7 million Phase I project came through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The local match was $700,000.

Phase II began in 2009 and included the sidewalks on both sides of East Broad Street from the Little Schuylkill River Bridge to Greenwood Street, along with the Tamaqua Train Station sidewalk. The grant was $219,650 through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Hometown Streets Program, and the local match was $25,800 for a total project cost of $245,450.

“It’s all about our ongoing efforts to create a more aesthetically appealing downtown,” Steigerwalt said.

Notice, all except for one of the sidewalk sections were previously replaced within the last 5 years and are now being torn up again, talk about a waste of money. At a cost of over 200 grand and they had to cut back on pavers and trees, must be nice to be so free wheeling with taxpayers money for a project that was not needed.

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