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Cementon Bridge sidewalk deal worries Whitehall Township officials

A sidewalk maintenance agreement between PennDOT and Whitehall Township regarding the Cementon Bridge may be complicated by a provision related to accessibility for disabled persons.Township Solicitor Sarah Murray told the Board of Commissioners on Monday that she has concerns over a portion of the tentative agreement that calls for the township to be responsible for the cost of ongoing upgrades to the sidewalk as prescribed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.“This gives PennDOT the leverage to say that the regulations have changed, township go fix it,” she said.A resolution authorizing the agreement may be pulled from the board’s June 10 agenda if Murray, who said she will reach out to PennDOT to voice the township’s concerns, cannot resolve the issue by then.The agreement, which also involves Northampton at its end of the span, is too open-ended, she said.“They just think that you’re a bottomless pit of money — the township is not,” she said.The borough has already ratified its portion of the agreement, she said.The agreement delegates the responsibility for year-round maintenance of the sidewalk within Whitehall to the township, including snow removal and de-icing.Commissioner Joseph Marx Jr. wondered whether the onus to fund the improvements could be on PennDOT on the basis of structural integrity, which is the department’s responsibility per the agreement.“If it delves into structural, we can probably go after PennDOT to do that work,” said Frank Clark, township engineer.Murray also said she is concerned over wording that says the township might delegate maintenance responsibilities of the sidewalk, by ordinance, to adjacent property owners.The cost of providing future ADA-compliant construction may also, at the township’s discretion, be imposed upon those property owners, the agreement states.Marx said he was most concerned about the township’s responsibility if an accident involving a pedestrian happens on the sidewalk.“We’re going to have a bike path going across the bridge; who is liable if someone whacks somebody in a wheelchair with a bike?” he asked.Kevin Duffy is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Source: Morningcall

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