1,364 Pennsylvania Bridges Face Weight Limits Unless Repaired

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The ...

English: The source of the Ohio River at “The Point” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The Allegheny River (left) and the Monongahela River (right) join to form the Ohio here. The West End Bridge crosses the Ohio in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Liberty Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh is among nearly 1,400 state-owned bridges that could be posted with weight restrictions in the next few years if the Legislature fails to enact a transportation funding bill, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Gov. Tom Corbett is scheduled to be in Pittsburgh today to press his case for funding, and he will hold a news conference under the 2,700-foot-long Liberty Bridge crossing the Monongahela River.  The bridge is in need of rehabilitation estimated to cost $40 million to $60 million, but PennDOT doesn’t have the money.

The department has identified 1,364 bridges statewide that could have weight restrictions soon if they aren’t repaired, rehabilitated or replaced.  The list, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, contains about 400 bridges already posted with weight limits, but also includes several that are under construction now or will be soon, removing them from being at risk.

The Liberty Bridge is the biggest of 49 bridges in Allegheny County that are on the PennDOT list and not funded for rehabilitation or replacement.  Twelve of the 49 already have weight limits. Others, including the Hulton Bridge spanning the Allegheny River between Harmar and Oakmont and bridges near the Route 51-Route 88 intersection in Overbrook, are funded for replacement starting this year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/1364-state-bridges-face-weight-limits-unless-fixed-690705/#ixzz2VY1cFWZL

Hit Hard By Copper Wire Thieves, PPL Fights Back

A red/cyan anaglyph of a reel of tinned copper...

A red/cyan anaglyph of a reel of tinned copper 24swg wire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With its substations increasingly targeted by copper thieves, PPL is upping security and putting scrap dealers who may receive the stolen wiring on alert.

The utility has suffered about two dozen copper wire thefts throughout its Pennsylvania service area since the start of the year.  The utility’s Lancaster and northeast Pennsylvania service areas have been hit especially hard.

Last month, according to media reports, thieves broke into a Wilkes-Barre area substation just after midnight and stole more than 250 feet of copper wire used to ground the substation.  Scrap yards pay about $3 a pound for copper wire, according to Internet scrap pricing websites.

It’s a problem being faced by utilities across the country.  The nationwide spike in copper thefts dates to about 2008 when prices hit $4 a pound, topping out at $4.50 in 2011, according to the American Public Power Association‘s magazine, Public Power.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-pa-ppl-copper-thefts-20130606,0,2376611.story

Allentown Waterfront Developers Hash Out Details Of Riverwalk, Land Buys

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When private developers create a public riverwalk along the Lehigh River, who maintains it?

That’s just one of the questions raised by Allentown planners as developers Mark Jaindl and Dunn Twiggar Co. move forward with a $250 million mixed-use proposal for the city’s riverfront.

That plan — which includes 10 buildings housing 610,000 square feet of offices, 130,000 square feet of retail and 172 apartments — faces a vote for tentative approval by the city’s Planning Commission, the second of three approvals needed before construction can begin. Work on the property could start by the first quarter of 2014.

Waterfront developers had a workshop meeting with commissioners Thursday to hash out various issues involved with the 26-acre, two-phase development.  Among those were who was going to maintain a multi-level walkway along the Lehigh River.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-waterfront-development-planning-river-20130606,0,1241360.story

US employers Add 175K Jobs, Rate Up To 7.6 Percent

(AP) The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May, a gain that shows employers are hiring at a still-modest but steady pace despite government spending cuts and higher taxes.

The unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the Labor Department said Friday.  The rate rose because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign.  About three-quarters found jobs.

The government revised the job figures for the previous two months.  April’s gain was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000.  March’s was increased slightly to 142,000 from 138,000.  The net loss was 12,000 jobs.

Stocks jumped when the market opened at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, an hour after the report was released.  The Dow Jones industrial average surged 150 points in the first hour of trading.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/apnews/951674514947994523/US-employers-add-175K-jobs-rate-up-to-7.6-pct.

Pottstown Police Dept. Announces Promotions

POTTSTOWN — After 23 years on the Pottstown police force, Robert Thomas has a new position and a new office in Borough Hall.

Thomas, in a ceremony during Wednesday night’s Borough Council meeting, was promoted to the rank of captain.

His promotion comes on the heels of the promotion of his predecessor, Richard Drumheller, to police chief.

Thomas was a sergeant for 11 years and he led the detectives unit.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130607/NEWS01/130609482/pottstown-police-dept-announces-promotions#full_story

43 Apartments Planned For Pottstown Furniture Warehouse

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  While we 100 percent support any adaptive reuse projects in Pottstown, we are greatly concerned about the involvement of a low-income housing tax credit.  This project, if done correctly, could be a HUGE shot in the arm to this neighborhood and solidify the borough’s claim to be moving towards becoming an arts designation (which we 110 percent support). 

That being said, private sector investment is needed, not more glorified Section 8 housing.  In our humble opinion, this is the “easy way out”.  It might be harder to find private sector dollars but the payoff is greater.  Other communities are successfully finding investors who are converting old building into MARKET RATE apartments and condominiums.  I am all for affordable housing but any involvement of Section 8/low-income funding taints the project.

Pottstown needs to have a better opinion of itself and not settle for the first offer that falls from the sky.  Section 8 and low-income housing do not raise property values nor do they change people’s minds about Pottstown.  Somebody needs to be courageous and just say no.  Find another way.

POTTSTOWN — The moribund plan to transform the former Fecera’s furniture warehouse on Beech Street into artist loft apartments returned to borough council Wednesday night with new backers and a new twist.

Genesis Housing Inc., the non-profit agency which engineered the development of the former Jefferson School into senior rental housing and has rehabilitated dozens or blighted properties in the first ward into owner-occupied homes, is partnering with a Syracuse non-profit housing agency on a $12 million plan to develop the property into 43 apartments targeted toward artists.

The difference is in addition to securing an historic architecture tax credit for the project, the developers,   HousingVisions, are also seeking a low-income housing tax credit, the same kind sought in 2010 for the controversial Pearl senior housing proposal along Industrial Highway — and that raised a few eyebrows on borough council.

“I’m still not sold,” Borough Council President Stephen Toroney said. “This is the same tax credit that was sought by the Pearl Group and that was for a 55-and-older community and people still came out and protested.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130607/NEWS01/130609465/43-apartments-planned-for-pottstown-furniture-warehouse#full_story