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Broadfording Road bridge progress draws complaints

August 11, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday told residents they're trying to have repairs to the Broadfording Road bridge completed as quickly as possible, but didn't specify when that might be.

About 25 residents who live near the stone arch bridge over Conococheague Creek attended the County Commissioners meeting to voice their concerns about the progress of the project.

The county closed the bridge for repairs in June 2003. It was to be finished in October 2003, but a dispute with the contractor, BEKA Industries of Pasadena, Md., kept the bridge closed and unrepaired.

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The county and BEKA were at an impasse over the cost of additional work needed because of weather-related damage to the bridge.

The commissioners terminated BEKA's $693,000 contract in March 2004.

BEKA officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The commissioners have since looked for other contractors to perform the work, but the only contractor who expressed interest in the job wanted more money than the county had expected to pay.

The county estimated the project would cost $890,965. Pennsylvania contractor George Hann submitted bids for the work ranging from $2.6 million to $3.2 million.

The commissioners rejected Hann's bids on July 29 and directed county staff to try to negotiate a contract.

"Hopefully, within a year's time, that bridge is reopened," Commissioner John C. Munson said.

In the meantime, residents said they're stuck dealing with the inconveniences of the closed bridge.

Chuck McCann, who spoke on behalf of several residents, said reopening the bridge should be the county's top priority.

He said the closure is inconvenient for residents and might slow down ambulance or police response times in emergencies.

Those who live near the bridge must drive on roads that are falling apart and inadequate to handle a lot of traffic, he said.

"For now, we hold you responsible for this calamity," McCann told the commissioners.

McCann asked how much longer residents will have to put up with a closed bridge.

"We are running out of patience," McCann said.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners, too, want the bridge repaired.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps told the residents they should be upset with BEKA, not the commissioners.

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