Elkton officials approve FEMA letter for pedestrian bridge
ELKTON — The town is taking another step toward making a proposed pedestrian bridge on Delaware Avenue a reality.
Elkton’s mayor and commissioners on Wednesday night voted to allow KCI Engineering Technologies, the town’s engineering firm, to submit Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) application letter on behalf of the town to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeking permission to build the bridge.
Town officials have tried for years to overcome state and federal permitting hurdles to meet an urgent need to construct a safer crossing for pedestrians, who currently have to walk in a vehicular travel lane to cross over the Big Elk Creek. But the proposed bridge falls within FEMA’s floodplain zones. Federal regulations stipulate structures in those zones that result in an increased amount of water surface elevation during a flood event must receive FEMA approval.
In order for the letter to be sent, town officials also had to authorize the $6,500 it costs for FEMA to review the letter. The next step in the process is for KCI to send the letter.
During a commissioner’s workshop held last week, Brian Morgan, KCI regional practice leader, said the town must show the construction of the bridge will not change the water surface elevation. The engineering firm’s model shows a 0.01-foot, or one-hundreth of a foot, increase in water surface elevation. The letter will demonstrate that the survey equipment used is limited in accuracy and that the one-hundreth of a foot is not measurable, Morgan said.
During public comment, Elkton resident Tom Helfrich, said a bridge must be constructed to keep people safe while crossing over the creek, no matter what.
“The red (tape) is just unbelievable, I can’t believe that we can’t get a crosswalk,” Helfrich said. “If they’re gonna do something to you, what’s the worst they’re gonna do to us, fine us?”
Helfrich said he almost hit someone and had to slam on the brakes of his 10,000 lb truck. But it’s difficult, even at 20 miles per hour, to stop his truck because all the weight from the back is coming forward, he added.
“I think that we are all doing our darndest to get this thing to happen,” Mayor Rob Alt said. “We have reached out, I think that we’ve kind of got our fingers crossed and I hate to say it that way, but I think that they hear us loud and clear down there.”
Although, there are “buts” to doing something without the state’s approval, Alt said he was “well-educated” about a thought he had of putting up a sign without the state’s approval. He said if someone were to run off the road and hit the sign that was not approved by the state, he could be personally liable.
He said the board did talk about putting up a bridge without the state’s approval, but if something were to happen, the town could be liable for an incident.
“But we’re not stopping on this bridge,” Alt said. “I agree 100 percent, I think everyone up here (the commissioners) does, someone is going to get hurt on that bridge.”
Alt also gave an update on the financial activity report for the month of July. He said the general fund balance is a little over $1 million, the water fund has a little over $2.6 million, there is a little over $7.7 million in the sewer fund and a bit over $6 million in the major facilities fund. The grand total is The Elkton mayor and commissioners discuss the Conditional Letter of Map Revision during the meeting on Wednesday night. $17,431,475.78, Alt said.
Also, the mayor and commissioners approved a budget amendment for the cost of a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban SUV for $42,140. Steve Repole, town finance director, said 60 percent of the cost, $25,284, would come from the general fund, $6,221 or 15 percent from the water fund and 25 percent from the sewer fund, or $10,535. This SVU would replace the 2002 Expedition.
They also approved the re-budgeting of $223,930 for two F750 dump trucks, which were budgeted and ordered in fiscal year 2016 budget, but were not received until this current fiscal year. He said the cost will be evenly divided between the general fund, the water fund and sewer fund.