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Fox Stop Bridge project delayed because of cost |

Fox Stop Bridge project delayed because of cost

| Thursday, June 1, 2006 12:00 a.m

FALLOWFIELD TOWNSHIP – Construction of a new Fox Stop Bridge was expected to begin later this month and be completed by fall.

But the lowest bid opened in mid-May was more than triple the anticipated cost, creating the latest delay, the township supervisors learned at a Wednesday meeting.

That bid was for nearly $2.58 million, solicitor Keith Melenyzer said. The state previously approved $750,000 for the demolition and construction project.

Melenyzer said Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad officials plan to meet with the bidder and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to discuss the plan.

“All that means is more delays,” Melenyzer said.

The supervisors directed Melenyzer to write a letter to the courts expressing their concern over the delay.

The bridge situation has been the subject of a seven-year legal battle.

On June 29, 1999, the state Public Utilities Commission ordered the rail company to remove and replace the bridge. The rail company petitioned the Commonwealth Court to review the PUC order. The court upheld the commission’s order.

On March 4, 2002, the company asked for a six-month extension to file plans. It asked for an additional four-month extension on Nov. 18, 2002. The township objected to that request.

In July 2003, the PUC asked the court to enforce its order. The company unsuccessfully sought to have the case moved to federal court.

In April 2004, the rail company submitted preliminary bridge plans, but the PUC said the plans did not meet its specifications. Similar plans were submitted at the end of 2004.

Following a May 18, 2005, mediation session, the Commonwealth Court ordered the company to submit all plans for the bridge project.

In March, the railroad submitted plans, which led to advertisements seeking bids for the construction.

“Last month, we were happy because it appeared that this (project) was going to happen,” Supervisor Herman Pennline said. “Now we’re facing another delay.”

In others news, the supervisors approved a resolution creating an advisory committee for park improvements. The committee – which Supervisor Donn Henderson said ideally would comprise high school students and other township residents – would advise the township on proposed plans for major improvements to the park at the former Fallowfield Elementary School.

Henderson said the township’s new junk car ordinance has been an effective tool in a recent crackdown.

Henderson said 30 junk cars were uncovered in a one-square mile section of the township between the Maples and Rodgers Manor.

“People should be aware of the ordinance,” Henderson said. “Some people may not be happy, but we’re not going to let the township become a 23-square-mile junk yard.”

Police warned residents that the Latchem property is posted private property. Capt. Allen Pettit said some residents have been riding all-terrain vehicles or target shooting on the property, which is prohibited.

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