Union Bridge road hits dead-end New Ladiesburg dropped from budget

March 07, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners are dropping plans for a road that Union Bridge officials say would divert truck traffic from North Main Street and help fire and rescue crews get to the northern section of town during floods.

Two of the three commissioners said last week that they would follow a county Planning Commission recommendation and remove New Ladiesburg Road from the county's capital budget. The mile-long road, which would extend from Route 75 opposite Stem Road to Quaker Hill Road had been budgeted at $1.1 million. The road is coming off the planning list as Lehigh Portland Cement Co. plans a $180 million expansion and modernization that will increase plant capacity -- and the number of trucks traveling Main Street -- by 50 percent, to an estimated 250 trucks a day.

"My main concern is to have a way in and out of Union Bridge during high water," Mayor Perry L. Jones said.

Local volunteer fire and rescue crews can respond to an emergency on Bark Hill Road, for example, in three minutes in dry weather. When Little Pipe Creek overflows the bridge that links the northern residential area to the rest of the town, the response time is 30 minutes, the mayor said.

Mr. Jones said truck traffic is also a concern. "When you talk about Main Street revitalization, you can't attract businesses with that many trucks going up and down Main Street," he said.

A road that is removed from the county's capital budget usually is delayed for at least six years, said J. Michael Evans, county public works director.

David T. Duree, chairman of the county Planning Commission, said county staff members from the departments of building construction, management and budget, planning and public works recommended in November that New Ladiesburg Road be removed from the capital projects list.

"From the input at the time, we were not aware of the upgrade at Lehigh," Mr. Duree said.

County Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates said last week that the county does not have the money to build the road.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell urged that the project be kept on the county's capital budget "if we can afford it."

"I feel like there's potential, with help from Lehigh and the town," he said.

David H. Roush, Lehigh's plant manager, said that although the company has discussed donating the right of way for the section of New Ladiesburg Road that would cross its property or contributing to the construction cost, it has made no commitments.

Lehigh officials are "not out actively trying to get anyone to build the road," Mr. Roush said, although it probably would be more convenient than Main Street for truckers.

Mr. Jones said the Ladiesburg Road project could benefit the county by opening up land with rail access for industrial users.

Pub Date: 3/07/96

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