The Birdsboro Borough Council discussed repairs to the East First Street bridge at an Aug. 4 meeting.The council unanimously passed a resolution permitting Borough Manager Karen Willman to begin consulting with engineering firms to draw up specifications and proposals for the bridge repair.
The bridge, which crosses Hay Creek, has been closed since July 29, when PennDOT consultant STV found that the bridge's support beams had deteriorated.
Willman estimated that the bridge will cost $500-600,000 to refurbish, not including engineering costs.
She also said that the bridge will remain closed for at least a year.
With proper maintenance, the refurbished bridge could last another 25 years, Willman said.
A total of $275,000 to repair the bridge has already been guaranteed through a Community Development Block Grant, Willman said.
Willman said that, so far, she has not been able to secure additional township, county or state money to help with the bridge repair.
"There's just nothing out there grant-wise," she said.
Council member Steve Lusky questioned why the borough had not repaired the bridge earlier.
"The infrastructure in this town is crumbling because you keep scrimping," Lusky said to the other council members. "And I know why you did it. You didn't want to raise taxes."
Council member Neil McCauley said, "This thing's been evolving for many years."
There had been several opportunities and suggestions to repair the bridge, McCauley said, but the borough had balked at spending the money or closing the bridge.
In other business: Chief of Police Theodore Roth reported that the Birdsboro Beverage Company had been burglarized the nights of July 30, July 31 and Aug. 1. Cases of beer were stolen from behind a Plexiglas barrier, Roth said.
Michelle Kehoe, director of the Boone Area Library, presented the council with a report of the library's financial difficulties.
The library is still $16,000 short to operate through the end of the year, Kehoe said. The council agreed to assist the library to ensure that it would remain open into the fall.