Catasauqua Press

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Race St. bridge work delayed again

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

PennDOT questions span’s ability to support traffic during original plan

With yet another delay posted at the Race Street bridge, the latest notice stalls the bridge closing until Aug. 8. Borough Manager Stephen Travers addressed some of the concerns at Catasauqua Borough Council’s workshop session July 30.

The original concept was to keep traffic moving along Race Street during construction. The plan closed one side of the bridge to make repairs and then addressed the other side. The timeline was to complete the bridge in March 2019.

A couple of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation engineers began closely examining the details.

“When [the engineers] looked at the bridge, they questioned whether the bridge could support traffic if part of it was removed,” Travers said.

The bridge was extended to accommodate cars at some juncture in its life span. The original bridge was an arched span. The plan called for the arch to be supported, but, according to Travers, the engineers are questioning if any support system would be effective.

The alternative is to close the bridge completely.

An advantage of closing Race Street is the bridge gets done before winter. The completion date would be moved up to Thanksgiving.

A disadvantage is that there is a lot of traffic passing through quiet neighborhoods around 14th Street. Councilman Brian Bartholomew wants to ensure that trucks are not routed through the borough.

From the discussions, it appears that PennDOT and council are leaning toward closing down the Race Street span completely. An alternative is to delay the bridge another year. No one on council is in favor of a delay.

In other business, public works Supervisor Jeff MacHose reported UGI will be making repairs on Church Street. Mayor Barbara Schlegel will allow parking along Second Street and in the school parking lot to help alleviate parking conflicts.

“We might have to make temporary adjustments until we get everything posted,” MacHose said.

The Catasauqua Civil Service Commission issued tests to 20 applicants for open positions on the borough’s police force. Next up are physical agility tests. According to Solicitor Jeffery Dimmich, there are some changes to details that need to be addressed, but the changes should not interfere with the selection process.

Bartholomew questioned council President Vincent Smith on the Iron Works project. The borough is working with a preferred developer, but Bartholomew feels council is being kept out of the loop. His biggest concern is that Smith will give the land away as part of the agreement.

“They have agreed to pay something for the land, but we are still negotiating,” Smith said.

The borough is trying to get a grant to put in the infrastructure.

“According to the developer, the plan makes sense if the roads and sewers are in place,” Smith said.

If there is no grant? Then it’s back to the negotiating table.

Residents are invited to share ice cream with the police department. The “Meet the Heat” event will be held 5-7 p.m. Aug. 16 at Catasauqua Park & Playground, 501 American St. There is another police meet-and-greet planned for Sept. 20.

A Community of Distinction award ceremony takes place 4-6 p.m. Aug. 27 at the municipal complex, 90 Bridge St.

Council appointed Brenda Wieder as interim director of the George Taylor House.