Elk­ton of­fi­cials ap­prove FEMA let­ter for pedes­trian bridge

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - bshea@ce­cil­whig.com By BRI­ANNA SHEA

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

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