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Bridge Repairs Get Borough’s Attention: Birdsboro Council Votes to Start the Process of Fixing the Span on First Street at a Cost of Between $500,000 and $600,000.

August 5, 2008

By Rebecca Vandermeulen, Reading Eagle, Pa.

Aug. 5–Birdsboro Borough Council voted Monday night to start the process of repairing an open-grate steel bridge on First Street.

The borough closed the bridge over Hay Creek between Cinder and Water streets last Tuesday after meeting with a contractor for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Borough Manager Karen T. Willman said she’s been told informally that it would cost between $500,000 and $600,000 to repair the bridge, and between $2.5 million and $3 million to replace it.

Williams said the deck and the 11 steel beams that support it need to be repaired or replaced.

Monday’s 6-0 vote authorizes Willman to get cost estimates and determine where the money will come from.

Willman said she’s been told the borough can expect $275,000 in state grant money, but she doesn’t have that commitment in writing.

Councilman Steven A. Lusky said the borough was advised in March 2007 to fix the bridge but did not.

He said the bridge needs to be fixed soon, even if that means borrowing money or raising taxes. People don’t mind tax increases if they get something in return, he said.

“The infrastructure in this town is crumbling,” Lusky said. “I don’t want to raise taxes, but we have to do something to bring people back to this borough.”

The bridge has been on Birdsboro’s radar for years. One problem has been that the paint on the bridge contains lead.

McCauley said the state has told borough officials that the borough would have to spend $50,000 to protect Hay Creek if it decides to sandblast the bridge.

Meanwhile, council also stressed it will not let the Boone Area Library close this year.

The Mill Street library is facing financial problems, and library officials said earlier this year that they might be forced to close before the end of 2008.

Before council met Monday, there was a sign in the library saying the facility would close Oct. 31.

But last month borough council agreed to give the library $25,000 and cover any other financial shortfalls until the end of the year.

“They’re not going to close Oct. 31 because we’ll cover it and make sure they don’t,” Lusky said.

Library Director Michelle L. Kehoe said she needed to see that guarantee in writing, and Lusky said she would receive it today.

“What I need to do is reassure my staff that they’ll get a paycheck,” she said.

Kehoe also said library offi cials have several fundraisers planned, intend to meet with an expert on raising money and are applying for a $30,000 state grant.

Council members said the library needs to become selfsufficient so it doesn’t have future fi nancial problems.

Councilman Aaron J. Durso was absent.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Reading Eagle, Pa.

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