Rail Trail project going to bid

By on June 11, 2014

Phase II of the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail project is going to bid.

After much discussion, the Akron Borough Council agreed Monday to bid the project with two options, a street-level rail trail crossing at Main Street and a tunnel that passes under Main Street. Bids will open Aug. 7.

Councilman Dan McCormac voted against the motion.

Councilman John Taylor made the motion to bid the project because of time constraints and said, “I was under the misconception we had a lot more time.”

McCormac asked what power the rail trail committee has.

Councilman Earl Shirk said he thought the reason the committee was back together was to look at value engineering.

“Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think the committee is coming together to make a recommendation one way or the other. I think they are coming together to say what can we do to save money,” he said.

Most of the work is already done for both choices, according to borough manager Dan Guers. He estimates the borough would need two weeks to prepare and another month to advertise and get the bids back.

“I don’t know what the committee can do unless they have those figures and facts in front of them,” he said.

“It’s kind of the chicken and egg discussion,” Earl Shirk said. “We are sort of looking at it saying what can we change but we haven’t really gone out and compared apples to apples. I realize it may be putting the contractors and maybe the engineer at doing some redundant work, but I find it difficult to do an accurate comparison when we don’t have both of them on the table.”

Guers said value engineering was done in Phase I and it carried over to Phase II.

“Value engineering basically reduced the scope of the trail cut. Rather than having two processes for the asphalt, we went to one,” he said. “The other big value engineering was eliminating the lights and going with PPL.”

“The only thing I can see value engineering on Phase II is whether you are going to have a bituminous trail or a stone dust trail,” he said. “That could be value engineered to reduce the cost.”

Mayor John McBeth asked about making changes to the welcoming center, which is part of Phase I.

Earl Shirk said he is not anxious to reopen changes on Phase I and Council President Thomas Murray agreed, saying, “No, that’s been done.”

Solicitor Kenelm Shirk III agreed and said two other municipalities have already approved Phase I and it would be difficult to make changes at this time.

“Let’s at least get hard numbers we can work with here. We’ve got a lot of grant money at stake if we start missing dates,” Earl Shirk said.

Last month, the council awarded a contract to Horst Excavating for phase one of the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail. That phase will extend from the end of the existing trail near Ephrata’s Pointview Avenue to a point 300 feet east of Akron’s Main Street. Phase one will be paid for by Ephrata Borough, Ephrata Township and Akron Borough.

Under public comment, resident Don Reese said he feels a horrendous safety situation is going to unfold by going across the road.

“All I can tell you is that I pull out there every day and there are a million scenarios,” he said.

Reese asked if there is going to be a yield to pedestrian sign or if it’s going to be “a good luck, hope you get across and cars stop for you situation?”

“If there is a cross walk for the at grade, it will be a yield to pedestrians,” Murray said, “but that does not guarantee they are going to yield.”

“The other thing I’m wondering, are you going to tell people along there they can no longer park there?” Reese asked.

“We have not made that decision yet,” Murray said, adding it depends on what option is chosen.

Dena Reedy is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. She welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at dreedy.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4434


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