Township upset over extra Route 248 bills
Cost to fix intersection at Cherryville Inn has more than doubled
As the cost to fix the troublesome Blue Mountain DriveRoute 248 intersection continues to go up, Lehigh Township officials aren’t happy about paying.
Workers are set to start clearing trees and debris at the former Cherryville Inn opposite the Turkey Hill mini-mart in the next week, the first step in improving that intersection with an additional turning lane.
But township Supervisor Cindy Miller said she was uncomfortable with a $17,359 charge from Hanover Engineering for design and construction of a fourth lane because the overall cost of the project has more than doubled since it was approved.
“I’m a little leery of paying anything,” she said during the supervisors’ meeting Tuesday.
To date, the township has paid Hanover $107,608 toward the project, with another $83,890 yet to be remitted, Township Manager Alice Rehrig said.
That leaves Lehigh with an overall bill of $191,498, more than double the estimated tab for the work.
The board originally agreed to pay Hanover Engineering $78,000 to design and build the fourth turn lane, including demolition and site work of the abandoned Cherryville Inn.
Supervisors Chairman Darryl Snover said that amount, covered by a state grant, was likely going to fall short of what would ultimately be required, but that didn’t justify how much the agreed-to bill has grown.
The board ultimately decided in favor of approving payment of the $17,000 bill, but not before a spirited debate over who is to blame for the unforeseen charges.
Snover said the project has gone over-budget due to PennDOT, which owns both roads.
The state agency last June informed the township that it would not issue a permit for the work without first receiving revisions to Hanover’s engineering plan because supervisors authorized condemnation proceedings of the former inn before submitting road improvements plan.
“PennDOT has full control and they repeatedly moved the goal posts — it’s not fair to the taxpayers to bear the cost,” he said.
He suggested that the board consider taking legal action against the state agency to get it to cover the added charges, but that idea failed to gain traction.
Supervisor Keith Hantz said there was no disputing that Hanover did what it was asked to do and should be paid.
“Yes it was over-budget but they did perform the work, we owe them the money,” he said.
Kevin Duffy is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Demolition is set to begin on the former Cherryville Inn at Blue Mountain Drive and Route 248 in Lehigh Township.