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Rough road ahead for rail-trail project in Chambersburg

February 17, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg's long-delayed rail-trail project is likely to be pushed back another year after the borough council Monday voted not to act on a proposal to build a shorter route.

The council voted 7-3 to table further discussion on the trail until it is determined whether additional funds are available to complete the 1.1-mile trail along a former railroad line.

The council will, however, vote to accept or reject a second round of bids on the project at its Feb. 28 meeting, according to Assistant Borough Manager David Finch. Late last year, the council rejected the first round of bids as too high.

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In the second round of bids, four companies submitted bids well above the $630,000 the borough has available for the project. The low bid from George S. Hann & Son of Fort Littleton, Pa., was $1,170,642, Finch said.

Finch said the companies also submitted bids for a "bare bones version" of the trail that would have included paving and electrical conduit work, but left items such as a canopy for a trestle, light standards and landscaping for a later date.

Hann submitted the low bid for that, as well, but the $844,591 bid is still more than $200,000 above what the borough has to spend.

Finch said the borough also proposed that the council approve $6,000 to redesign a shorter rail-trail route that could be built with available funding. The council did not act on the proposal, he said.

Mayor Thomas Newcomer, a proponent of the rail-trail for nine years, said he was disappointed with the council's vote to table action.

"If we don't do it now, nothing is going to get done this year," Newcomer said Tuesday. He said the borough has spent $97,000 on design and engineering costs, but the extra $6,000 would have allowed construction on a shortened rail-trail to begin this year.

In the meantime, Newcomer said he has written to U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th, asking for an additional $500,000 to complete the trail as designed. Newcomer said he doubted the money could be made available in time to get the trail started this year.

Newcomer said the shortened trail could have begun farther north in the area of West Washington or West Queen streets. He said some of the most expensive work, including about $146,000 in curb construction on Water Street, could have been cut out of the project for the time being.

The planned route of the trail is from South Street north to Commerce Street, Finch said.

The mayor said he is concerned that some of the funding could be withdrawn by the state and reallocated to another community if the borough delays much longer. Further delays also will add to the cost of the project because of inflation, he said.

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