LOCAL

Martin’s Mill Bridge to be renovated in 2013

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
The underside of Martin's Mill Bridge will also be attractive with design plans approved by the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors. Steel beams will replace the cable to make the 1849 bridge strong enough to handle occasional recreational traffic The bridge will be taken apart in 2013, and restored, with the efforts also correcting the sway.

It's full steam ahead for Martin's Mill Bridge. The Antrim Township Board of Supervisors on Sept. 25 gave engineer Husam Obeid permission to keep the ball rolling on renovation plans for the historic bridge. His firm, P. Joseph Lehman, had completed a study and concluded the cost to extend its life by 40 years was $850,000. With contingency expenses added, it would be $920,000.

Antrim received a $245,000 earmark for the bridge through Rep. Bill Shuster's office in 2008, and a $700,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration in 2011. Antrim's share of engineering costs was about $100,000.

Obeid said a field survey, right-of-way search, and roadway plans were done. DEP and the Franklin County Conservation District had given approval to the project. No utility work was necessary and ROW access from neighbors would be needed. He expected all environmental approvals within a few months. The work could be done a year ahead of schedule too.

"We'd like to see it done next year," Obeid said.

He could advertise early in 2013, open bids in April, and work could wrap up in late fall. PennDOT would release the highway funds early if Antrim was ready.

The bridge would be dismantled, Obeid had told the board last spring. Damaged pieces would be replaced. Last week he said the big grant allowed his company to install steel beams on the underside. While they were not necessary, they would correct the sway. The weak and crooked trusses would be attached to the beams for stability. Then Martin's Mill Bridge would be able to carry up to six-ton vehicles on occasion. It would not be open to motorists on a regular basis, just pedestrians.

Supervisor James Byers thought the beams would take away from the look of the bridge, but Obeid said they would be painted to blend in with the wood. Rick Baer asked about the fate of timbers removed from the structure. On hearing that they would be disposed of, he asked that the bid papers state they be kept for the township. He favored milling the wood for use in other ways, such as made into park benches.

"It's where it is and what it signifies. It's part of Martin's Mill Bridge."

Overdue sewer bills

Baer brought up the status of customers delinquent on their sewer bills, which resident Bob Coladonato, in the audience, had broached at the previous night's Antrim Township Municipal Authority meeting. Coladonato was concerned about the numbers, which hurt the bottom line on sewer operations while other customers were paying their bills on time.

Chairman Fred Young III agreed more could be done to collect what was due. Customers should be able to pay something, and probably hadn't been pushed hard enough.

Coladonato said sewer customers falsely believed the township couldn't do anything about the delinquencies, but they could. "There's no one real answer, but so far the township doesn't have any answers."

Solicitor John Lisko cautioned against going so far as a sheriff's sale, because a property could have significant mortgages. A lien was just as effective.

Pat Heraty said, "We should go after those with the largest bills. We need to provide better guidance to our personnel.”

Coladonato had researched how other townships dealt with the issue. One shut off sewer service. Then when the sewer backed up, it became a health hazard, so the people had to move or pay up.