Cumberland Times-News

September 7, 2013

County awards contracts for bridges, OKs solicitation of bids for library roof replacement

Water hookup assistance available for Rawlings residents

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County commissioners awarded contracts for a bridge inspection program, a bridge replacement and approved solicitation of bids for a new roof for the South Cumberland Library, among other items, at their Thursday regular business meeting.

Commissioners awarded a contract for $371,755 to Wallace, Montgomery and Associates of Towson for 71 bridge inspections. The county has worked with the same firm on previous occasions, county officials said. The contract is eligible for full federal reimbursement. Failure to ins-pect could jeopardize federal funding for the county.

County bridges require regular inspections, and all bridges over a 20-foot span must be inspected every two years. The bridges set for inspection under the contract include 56 in the county, 10 in Cumberland, three in Lonaconing, and one each in Midland and Westernport.

The county has 54 major bridges and 85 smaller bridges. The county’s annual bridge replacement cost is $900,000 per year and maintenance each year is $200,000.

Inspections of major bridges are required every two years and eats up $400,000 of the county roads budget over that time period, officials said. The contract award must be approved by the State Highway Administration. The bridge inspection program is up to date in Allegany County, said Paul Kahl, the county’s director of public works.

Another big chunk of money is coming to the county to help with replacement of the Rawlings water system. County staff will be asking commissioners to sign authorization for an $800,000 Community Development Block Grant for the project. The project will provide water to 75 homes currently on well water and add 19 homes farther down U.S. Route 220 that are on a failing water system, county officials said.

The funds include monies for a program to help residents with water hook-up fees, said David K. Nedved, a county economic and community development representative.

“Ours was one of only two awards in the state that received the maximum amount available,” Nedved said. Commissioner Creade Brodie Jr., urged citizens to take advantage of the water hook-up program.

Nedved aid documentation is required for the program, “because it’s a HUD (Housing and Urban Development) program, there are hoops to jump through.” But Nedved said he would help residents interested in the program to navigate through the paperwork. “It’s not that bad,” Nedved said.

The second phase of the Rawlings project will provide water service to about 350 customers in the Rawlings area.

Rawlings needs complete replacement of its water and sewer system.

Commissioners approved putting a roof contract for the library out to bid. The roof is more than 30 years old and the Allegany County Library System has obtained $90,000 in state grant funds for the project, which will require a 10 percent county contribution. It’s hoped construction could start before winter, but in spring 2014 at the latest, county staff reported in a memo to commissioners. The funds have already been allocated in the county’s 2014 capital improvement plan.

A contact for $880,445.80 was awarded to Carl Belt, Inc. to replace a bridge on Potomac Hollow Road over Moore’s Run. The project is eligible for 80 percent federal funding, it is the only project selected in the state, county officials said. The 20 percent local match will be made from county coal haul tax funds.

In other business, commissioners approved opening bidding to upgrade microwave links for Allconet broadband service for $600,000. Half of that funding is from an Appalachian Regional Commission grant.

The county’s ethics law was amended at the suggestion of the state ethics commission. County Attorney Bill Rudd said the state group had asked for changes in the amount of unsolicited gifts county officials could receive. Commissioners approved lowering the amount of gifts from $50 to $20. The changes will also require individuals to register as lobbyist if, in connection with the “intent to influence” they spend more than $100 on food, entertainment or other gifts for officials or employees of the county. that’s down from $200 in the previous law, Rudd said.

The meeting was held at the county office building on Kelly Road.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.