Wednesday, February 27, 2008

County Commissioners Address Infrastructure Projects

At their weekly meeting Wednesday morning, the County Commissioners voted to approve the Planning Commission's application for state funding for the "Rooftop Greening Project."

As reported yesterday, the State Department of Environmental Protection and Office of Energy and Technology Deployment will make as much as $479,000 available to the project.

"Roof greening," the practice of covering the roof or exterior of a building with vegetation not only helps prevent flooding, but also conserves energy by helping thermally insulate the buildings, according to Senior County Environmental Planner Mary Gattis-Schell.

The Commissioners also voted to approve over $400,000 in funding for renovations to various county bridges including the relocation of the Rettew Mill covered wooden bridge to Middle Creek Road, repairs to the Rock Hill steel truss bridge, repairs to the Black Barron Road bridge, replacement of the Breneman Road bridge, and replacement/relocation of the Eshelman Mill Road bridge.

County Engineer Keith Harner explained that each of these bridges has shown signs of deterioration and need to be "brought up to code" in order to comply with state mandates and to ensure public safety.

Construction on the Eshelman Mill Road Bridge and Breneman Road bridge is expected to commence in 2009.

During public comment, Mayor Leo Lutz of Columbia Borough raised his concerns about the presence of Route 441, which runs through downtown Columbia.

The County Planning Commission, he explained, had previously placed the relocation of Route 441 in their Long-Range Transportation Plan to be completed by 2012, but just recently bumped the project off the agenda in favor of bridge repairs and other projects.

He handed the Commissioners a petition signed by 670 residents of Columbia borough asking that the relocation of Route 441 be prioritized.

Lutz argued that the volume of traffic creates a noisy, dangerous environment in the heart of Columbia's historic and downtown district and is stunting both residential and commercial growth in the area.

Commissioner Chairman Dennis Stuckey promised Lutz that he had arranged a meeting with Representative Dave Hickernell to address the issue of funding for the project.