Bridge work not starting this year
In a disappointing development, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation delayed the reconstruction of the Race Street bridge over Catasauqua Creek until some undetermined time next year. The note says spring of 2019. The formal announcement was made at Catasauqua Borough Council’s regular meeting Aug. 13.
The project was originally scheduled in 2016 and has been delayed several times. It is part of a program designed to get questionable bridges updated to meet safety standards.
Mayor Barbara Schlegel is in contact with state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-18th.
Adding to the borough’s bad news is the closing of the municipal pool for the season. It has been said the pool closing might extend into next year.
Jeff MacHose, public works supervisor, commented on his concerns about the pool.
“About every 30 years, we need to make extensive repairs,” he said. “We see cracks now, and the pool loses thousands of gallons of water. The tile work is coming up. I have commented before that we need to have an extensive renovation of the pool.”
The recent flooding caused significant damage to the pumps. The existing pumps, according to MacHose, are discontinued. The cost of the damaged impellers, one of the necessary repairs needed for the existing pumps, is close to the new pump cost. MacHose proposes a different style of pump that would reduce damage from high waters.
He proposed increasing the height of a diversion wall upstream.
“The wall was there to divert the creek from its natural course, so the pool could be built. The floodwaters overwhelmed the wall, and water flowed over the wall and into the pool,” he said.
Jeff Miller, who manages the pool, said he saw the flood wave coming.
“I just stood there and watched it take over the pool,” he said.
The rain gauge at the waterworks plant recorded 4 inches of rain fell during the flooding.
The extent of the damage to the pool is being assessed. Council will take a look at options during the budget process.
In a related topic, the public works department installed a music display at Catasauqua Park & Playground, 501 American St. The stand-up musical instruments allow children to play and make music.
“They get some use and are not as loud as I expected,” councilwoman Jessica Kroope said.
Public works also experimented with a rubber playground mat to replace mulch. The soft surface is designed to reduce injuries, particularly cuts and bruises.
“We spend about $10,000 a year on mulch for the playground,” MacHose said. “The rubber is a lot more expensive than the mulch, but it will last a lot longer.”
The new rubber surface is installed in several play areas. Public works will evaluate the surface and how it wears under playground use.