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Aging bridge still a focal point

August 9, 2011

Photo by Joseph Bell – With the new Spring Creek Bridge now 10 years in the making, supervisors in Spring Creek Township are growing impatient as rising costs and state budget issues plague potential construction.

With the new Spring Creek Bridge now 10 years in the making, supervisors in Spring Creek Township are growing impatient as rising costs and state budget issues plague potential construction.
"That bridge is going to fall where it's going to fall unfortunately," said chairman Richard Wittman during a board meeting Monday night. Fellow supervisor Paul 'Ted' Bullers also was less than sympathetic and suggested that officials "put six-inch pipe across it and put 'condemned' on it."
With shortfalls in the state budget, there is a chance that many aging bridges across the state will not be replaced.
"I don't know if [state officials] have set anything aside, I don't know how that works, I don't know if PennDOT has the money set aside because it's been 10 years in the planning, which is about the norm," Wittman said. "My concern on the bridge is that it's going to run over the original estimate of $2.5 million.
"If it runs over, I really don't know what we'll do without the help of the federal and state governments. Rural townships, Spring Creek Township, we all could be in some trouble."
While planning for the replacement bridge has taken at least 10 years, supervisors cite several reasons for the delays including lengthy permit applications and some state officials putting forth a lackadaisical effort when it comes to timely paperwork.
"The permits take forever and had something not gone wrong at the state level-- someone dropped the ball and didn't get all the paperwork done, but without that, the bridge would've been done this year," Wittman said. "We were told it would go to bid in March of this year with a starting date of probably May or June of this year. That bridge should be gone and they should be doing work on it.
"Because somebody didn't do all the paperwork that was absolutely necessary or whatever it is, it got put back. Now it's supposed to go to bid in January of 2012 with a starting date of 2012. If the bids come in too high, I don't know how to pay for it, I really don't."
Spring Creek Township officials will be held accountable for five percent of the project costs and through certificates of deposit [CDs] from banks.
"The CDs that we've been talking about, the CD rates have tanked but we're sneaking up slowly on $300,000 that was originally set aside by former supervisors," Wittman said. "We're getting around $280,000 to $290,000 set aside for that bridge but if it goes over that, I really don't know what to say or what to do until we see the figures, and we probably won't see those figures until late this year, I'm thinking November or December."

Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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