Study under way for ‘deficient’ bridges

Lycoming County commissioners gave their blessing Thursday on a $5 million private placement bond request for expansion at The Williamsport Home.

The money would be used to construct new rehabilitation and transitional care facilities for community members and an 18-private room section that adjoins the present building at 1900 Ravine Road, according to Don Pote, the organization’s executive director. The project will not add any additional new rooms, but will provide for more private rooms, Pote said.

Pote said construction would start this spring and take about a year.

Lycoming County Authority board members – the organization that issues the bonds – previously approved the plan, said Ann Pepperman, authority solicitor.

Jersey Shore State Bank is expected to purchase the entire bond amount and parcel it out to other banks, she said.

Although commissioners formally approved the arrangement, the county is not financially obligated under the deal.

Commissioners also approved spending up to $116,000 to survey 73 locally owned bridges under 20 feet.

Mark Murawski, county transportation planner, said 65 bridges out of about 700 in the county are considered structurally deficient and need attention. If not deal with properly, these bridges will become unusable in the next 15 to 20 years of their useful lives, he said.

Closing them, he said, would create “havoc and detours throughout the county if not dealt with.”

Lack of construction funding and inadequate maintenance have created a large problem, according to Murawski.

Citizens “don’t care who owns the bridges. They just want it fixed,” he said.

Commissioners also approved application for a $350,000 rail grant that would extend a Lycoming Valley Railroad spur near NuWeld, 2600 Reach Road, that accesses the company’s 20-ton service crane, according to Bill Kelly, county deputy director of the planing and community development department.

Kelly said the project serves an economic development need in the county because other businesses could use the crane for loading and offloading railcars.

A $14,000 contract with a Moon Township engineering firm to recertify flood maps in the Trout Run area also was approved by commissioners. Engineers are required to recertify the maps to indicate that about 30 homeowners are not in a 100-year floodplain, but rather a 500-year floodplain.

“Current mapping does not reflect the actual risk there,” said John Lavelle, county hazard reduction planner.

With the change, Lavelle said the residents may not have to carry flood insurance on their properties.