Akron may delay rail trail project

By on July 31, 2013

By:

JAMES McGINNIS Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Plans to build the first phase of a new rail trail that would extend from the southern end of Ephrata to Main Street in Akron may be delayed until next spring at the earliest due to higher-than-expected construction bids.

Officials in Ephrata, Ephrata Township and Akron had anticipated building the first phase of the Warwick-Ephrata Rail Trail, which would extend from Pointview Avenue in Ephrata, southwest to Main Street in Akron, this fall. PennDOT officials built a concrete tunnel under Route 272 to carry the trail under that road, after demolishing a bridge, earlier this summer. Long-term plans envision the trail being extended further west through Warwick Township, to connect to the Lititz-Warwick Trailway, eventually forming a continuous greenway from the north side of Ephrata to downtown Lititz.

However, Akron borough manager Dan Guers announced to members of the council at a committee meeting July 22 that bids for the first phase of the project had come in substantially higher than the $200,450 that the town had allocated in its 2013 budget.

Guers declined to give a specific figure for the bids, but said that costs for installing lighting and constructing several retaining walls came in much higher than expected."The retaining walls that would have to be built in Ephrata and Akron added an extra $75,000, and the cross-section of the trail was also more expensive," Guers explained. "We also had about $20,000 in landfill fees for disposing dirt and debris that would be removed during construction."

Guers added that the borough could save $110,000 by eliminating landfill fees and using conventional, incandescent lights that would be connected to the PPL power grid instead of the LEDs that were originally proposed for the trail. The lights would still be housed in shoebox-style casings like those on the Ephrata Linear Park.

These proposed cuts, however, would still leave the project over budget, and Guers recommended that council reject the bids at their next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 5.

"We probably need to reject the bids," he said. "Ephrata Township and borough have already taken action. We need to re-bid the project and ask DCNR for a one-year extension."

If the current bids are rejected, construction will be delayed until next year at the earliest.

"We’re looking at springtime," Guers said.

During the July 8 meeting, councilman Perry Lorah announced that the board intended to discuss the bids for the construction of the segment of the trail from the south end of Ephrata to Main Street.

"We expect a lot of discussion from officials and residents," Lorah said.

The council also agreed to send a letter to the owner of a property on Orchard Street urging her to clean it up.

The property, which has been vacant for at least two months, is located on Orchard Street.

Resident Tanya Carter, who lives next to the property, which is currently vacant, said that she is concerned about stagnant, dirty water in an uncovered swimming pool located behind the house. In addition to being an eyesore, Carter voiced concern that the stagnant water could attract disease-carrying mosquitoes and other vermin.

Carter also said that there are weeds and trash in the vacant property’s yard.

"It (the pool) has not been operational for at least two years," she said. "One time she drained it, but that was it. I feel like nothing is being done about this," she said.

Borough manager Dan Guers responded by noting that officials cannot just walk onto a private property without the owner’s permission.

"There is only so much we can do within the law," he said.

The council agreed to send a letter to the resident explaining that the uncovered pool constituted a nuisance and potential health hazard, and ordered her to take action.

Councilman Terry Reber promised that the letter would be sent first-class.

The council also announced plans to install handicapped-accessible sidewalk ramps at the southwest corner of Fulton Street and Miller Road,and the northeast corner of Ninth and Moon Street, and to resurface Sixth Street and Miller Road.

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