MILFORD BOROUGH - At the Tuesday, August 15 Milford Borough Council workshop meeting, council updated wording for a letter to be sent to Pike County, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Dingman Township expressing Milford’s desire for a meeting to discuss issues related to PennDOT’s plan to repair the Route 209 Bridge at the Borough's South side in the year 2020.
This work could cause a 14 mile detour for traffic connecting the borough from Route 206 in New Jersey as well as traffic connecting Milford and Route 209 and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
PennDOT will explore the possibility of constructing a temporary bridge on the westerly side of the current bridge; however, one of the oldest buildings in Pike County sits on the property between the current bridge and the proposed site of the temporary bridge. There has also been concern that the area could possibly contain historically significant archeological sites which could preclude the construction of a temporary bridge.
Mott Street uproar
Another alternative for keeping traffic flowing was proposed by County Commissioner Matthew Osterberg suggesting that instead of PennDOT spending money on a temporary bridge, that the money be invested into upgrading the other two bridges in the borough crossing the Sawkill Creek and creating two one-way passages on each side of the 209 bridge.
It was this suggested alternative that brought a contingent of borough residents, who live on Mott Street, to the regular council meeting on August 7 to voice their displeasure with the plan and urged council to back them by writing a letter to the other affected entities noting that the borough collectively was against the one way traffic alternative and the upgrading of the Mott Street bridge to vehicular traffic. This was approved with a unanimous vote.
Beck clarifies position
Council president Patrick Beck was absent from the meeting and some residents had the opinion that Beck was behind the plan to open the Mott Street Bridge to vehicular traffic. An email from Beck dated Monday, August 14 was sent to the borough to clarify his position on the use of the Mott Street Bridge by PennDOT perceived by some residents at the August meeting to “save them money” was far from the truth.
Beck’s email continued that "PennDOT is considering building a temporary bridge at a cost of several million dollars while the 209 bridge is being refurbished. Myself, as well as other County officials, are exploring how we can get PennDOT to invest to upgrade our permanent existing infrastructure, such as the Mott Street Bridge and Metz Bridge, rather than waste that $$$ to build a temporary bridge. This has nothing to do with “saving PennDOT money” but rather to take a broader strategic vision to get PennDOT’s investment where we can use it. We’ve struggled to come up with $1.3 (million) to refurbish the Mott Street bridge. Why not have PennDOT invest many more millions to do it right? Including upgrading Mott Street!”
The timing of this discussion is a problem considering that the bids for the current Mott Street Bridge project are about to be let and the project does not include making the bridge capable of vehicular traffic. Will the completed bridge be easily upgraded to handle vehicles at a later date? Only the engineers would know for sure.
The Mott Street Bridge, currently closed to any passage, is scheduled for refurbishment for the purpose of foot traffic with close to $800,000 in engineering fees already invested. About 50 yards down stream from the 209 bridge, the Sawkill is crossed by T-425 (Metz Road) in Dingman Township which turns into 1st Street in the Borough.
Members of the council stated that they were aware of, and only attended one pervious meeting held at Dingman Township on July 20th which was called by PennDOT and involved Dingman Township, Milford Borough, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pike County Planning and the Pike County Commissioners and EMS officials.
Council softened their stand on the possible usage of the Mott Street Bridge and the Metz Bridge changing wording in the letter to mention council’s “grave concerns” and calling for a meeting of the County Commissioners, Dingman Township officials, officials from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Milford Borough officials as well as concerned residents to discuss all possible options to deal with the inevitable disruption in traffic patterns coming into and leaving Milford Borough with the rehabilitation of the Route 209 bridge.
Beck submits resignation
Vice President Kameen reported that a letter of resignation had been received from council president Patrick Beck; however, the letter was not made public and action on the matter was tabled until the next regular borough council meeting on September 4th.
Another member of council, Winston Clark, has removed his name from the upcoming election ballot. Clark was appointed to serve out a vacated term.
The Milford Borough Council normally meets on the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. for their regular meeting at Milford Borough Hall, 109 West Catharine Street, Milford. Due to Labor Day, the next Council meeting has been scheduled for Monday, September 11.
The office may be reached at 570-296-7140.