Project Enters Permitting, Variance, Land Acquisistion Stage


With design of the Bloomsburg flood protection project well underway, project engineers are pursuing construction permits for the $30 million venture.  Borton-Lawson has developed a joint permit application and submitted it to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and US Army Corps of Engineers.


SEDA-COG's Glenda Ruch, Project Coordinator, expects DEP and the Corps to undertake lengthy review processes, but is hopeful that permits will be issued by September.  "We would like to go to bid on the project this fall," she said.  SEDA-COG, through its Community Development program, is administering the project on behalf of the Columbia County Commissioners.  Plans call for a continuous U-shaped structure directly protecting Autoneum North America, Inc., and the former Windsor Foods site.  The federal Economic Development Administration and the Commonwealth's H2O PA program are the primary funding sources.  Also, Autoneum is a contributing financial partner to the project.


State and federal permits are just one aspect of the regulatory process with which the project is involved.  Ms. Ruch recently met with Bloomsburg's Zoning Hearing Board seeking variances related to the height of the structure, fencing on "mechanically stabilized" earthen levee portions of the project, road-related site clearances, and an accessory building.  An application for an erosion and sedimentation control permit has been submitted to the Columbia County Conservation District.  Borton-Lawson staff has been meeting with representatives of gas, electric, water, telephone, fiber optic and cable companies, working out plans to relocate or reconfigure underground lines.


Land acquisition for the flood protection project is also underway.  Easements for rights of way ─ some temporary, others permanent ─ are being pursued.  Easements will be needed for construction, and for operations and maintenance, once the project is completed.  A spring, 2015 start date is anticipated and construction is expected to take 18-20 months.


According to Ms. Ruch, the project is on schedule and within budget parameters that were established.  A public meeting in Bloomsburg is planned this fall (2014) to bring community residents and other interested individuals up to date on the project.


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Columbia County Commissioners / SEDA-Council of Governments

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