Bethlehem Press

Monday, January 21, 2019

Progress made on Water St. bridge

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Mark Kirlin Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Back in October, Hellertown council announced the Water Street Pedestrian Bicycle Safety Project. In that plan, the borough was going to replace the current advanced warning flashers with rapid flashers that are shared with the Heller Homestead Crossing and the Thomas Street Crossing. Subsequently, the Federal Highway Administration has discontinued the use of rapid flashers for pedestrian crosswalk use. Initially the FHA put the flashers in place as an experimental proprietary project. The project ultimately lasted 10 years.

Hellertown went to district five of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation asking for alternatives. Based on feedback from PennDOT, the borough has chosen an alternative called an overhead beacon flasher. The change will serve all the same functions as the rapid flasher.

The beacon will be an elevated flasher that is wider and will utilize led lighting. Council unanimously approved the change to comply with federal regulations.

In other news, the borough had announced last fall, an agreement that would have PennDOT install a sidewalk over the Water Street Bridge on the Northside. In the agreement, the borough would maintain the sidewalk, including snow and ice removal. Subsequently, the borough has received writing from PennDOT that includes a statement that would place the responsibility of the borough to also include replacement of the sidewalk if warranted. From the Borough’s perspective, the wording now deviates from the “original intent.”

They believe the sidewalk is part of the bridge structure and falls under PennDOT’s jurisdiction for replacement. The Borough plans to iron out the details with PennDOT in the coming months. The sidewalk is currently projected to be completed in the summer of 2019.

Also, during the meeting Dewey Fire Chief Mike Maguire gave a report summarizing the activity of the fire department for 2017. According to Maguire, the department took 349 calls for the year, an average of 29 per month, an average of 8 members per call, 1200 total man hours, 3,500 total training hours and 100 hours toward fund raising.

Under training, the department currently has one member who completed a firefighter one class, one member who is currently in a paramedic class and four members currently in EMT training. In the funding area, a state grant from 2016-17 allowed fire hydrants around the borough to be updated with new connections that will allow quicker access to the water supplies.

This year the department put in a request for state money to replace two of their four thermal imaging cameras which allow fire fighters to see sources of heat in low visibility situations. Depending on which camera they choose, the cost is in the range of $3,500 to $11,000 for each camera. The department hopes to replace the other two next year. Also, there is a plan to institute a volunteer in-house duty crew in the next couple of months. Currently, all members of the fire department respond to calls from their homes. With an in-house crew of firefighters already on standby at the station, the hope is to reduce the response times to fires and other emergencies. They plan to utilize the crew during weekends initially and then expand it to weeknights.