UPDATED 26 July 2023
Multiple problems – including storm water management & funding issues – with subsequent delays have plagued this project from the beginning, which goes back to 2021. What was said to be “unexpected utility conflicts” halted the project in March 2022.
At the April 12, 2023, #NewtownPA Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, resident , member of the Planning Commission, and Chair of the Friends Home and Village Board of Directors, Terry Christensen, questioned the delay in finishing the Lower Dolington Road (LDR) Trail.
In order to document this troubled project, I created a timeline, which I will update as needed. See the complete current timeline embedded at the end of this post or you can download the PDF. Meanwhile, here are the highlights:
Newtown Township applied to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for a 30% matching grant to cover the costs of construction of the M-1 (Lower Dolington Road) Segment of the Newtown Township Comprehensive Trail Plan. The request was for a grant of $1,074,499.44. The Township’s match of 30% would be approximately $323,000.
The Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) were notified that the DCED declined to award the grant that was applied for in June 2018.
The Township submitted a PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant application requesting a 50% matching grant of $499,675. If awarded, the total funding would be $499,675 9 grant money) + $499,675 (matching funds from Parks & Rec fund) = $999,350.
The Township was awarded $125,000 from DCED ($0 match requirement), and $250,000 from DCNR (50% match required) for a total of $375,000.
The Township modified the plan based on the reduced funding at hand. The new plan specified that the trail would only go from Frost Lane to the PECO easement south of the Woods of Saxony Development.
The Township submitted a DCED Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant application request for $523.099.50.
RVE submitted NPDES and E&S Permit Applications with PADEP and the Bucks County Conservation District (BCCD). The BCCD rejected the permit application, which called from rain gardens to manage storm water runoff. Meanwhile, the Township was awarded a $227,000 DCED Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant. This brings the total award funding for the project to $375,000 + 227,000 = $602,000. The Township had budgeted a Township match from the Recreation Capital Fund of $550,000, for a total available amount of $1,152,000 for construction in the 2021 budget.
A new plan that replaced the rain gardens with an infiltration trench and piping was submitted to BCCD and the permit was approved circa June 6, 2021. Obviously, the rain garden solution would have been much less expensive to implement than underground piping. Advertising for bids was authorized by the BOS. The winning bid, which includes the base bid (construction from Frost Lane to PECO easement) plus Alternate No.1 (PECO Easement to Yorkshire Drive), was by Associate Paving = $862,135.00
First sign of trouble… The Notice to Proceed was issued to the contractor. However, supply chain issues have upset the schedule and the contractor will re-estimate the timeline.
First Change Order… This change order reflected a 132 calendar day extension of the contract time for this project. The new date of completion for all authorized work is May 20, 2022.
Payment No. 1… $264,647.51 to Associated Paving Contracts, Inc. for work completed to date. [This is probably the last date that work has been done on the project.]
Resolution passed unanimously authorizing the transfer of $550,000 from the American Rescue Fund to the Recreation Capital Fund for the construction of the Lower Dolington Trail.
Delays blamed on “unexpected utility conflicts”… Numerous complaints from residents regarding the stalled project were received.
The township engineer responded: “As you are aware, we have encountered some ‘unexpected utility conflicts’ during construction which impact the underground infiltration trenches designed as part of this project. This is predominately in the area between Stanford Place and Everett Drive. Lumens was scheduled to relocate their conduit last year, which became January, then April, and now possibly the end of May. [As of July 4, 2022, this has not yet happened!]
“Additionally, Newtown Artesian Water has water mains in different locations than what was confirmed with them during the design. The Contractor also delayed performing test pits, which is another issue.”
Second Change Order… This change order reflected a 60 calendar day extension of the contract time for this project. The new date of completion for all authorized work is July 19, 2022. Given that no new work has been done on the project since March, 2022, and the fact that as of Jul 7, 2022, Lumens has not yet relocated its fiber cable conduit, a Third Change Order will probably be needed.
Payment No. 2… $220,795.53 to Associated Paving Contracts, Inc., presumably for work completed since the Payment No. 1 was made in March. However, it appears that NO SUBSTANTIAL WORK WAS DONE DURING THAT PERIOD.
Meanwhile, more complaints were received from residents regarding safety and maintenance issues; “My concern is the orange barrels and netting at the corners of Stanford Place, Lower Dolington Rd. and Stanford Dr. The curbing and handicap ramp at these locations have been completed for more than 2 months and are overdo for removal.”
The Township informed Supervisors that to do a cleanup would require a full crew to come back at additional expense [RVE estimated this would cost $800 - $1,000]. To date the Township has removed at least some of the garbage/litter, relocated barrels and netting to allow more pedestrian access to the intersection, and removed the netting laying on the ADA ramp, in order to comply with Federal law regarding maintaining the safety of ADA infrastructure.
At the July 13, 2022, BOS meeting, Supervisor Mack suggested that a “lot of feet need to be held to the fire” to account for the massive delay in this project. View the 11-minute video clip of that conversation.
Work has been halted on the Lower Dolington Rd Trail in for so long that weeds are growing out of the cones!
Email from Leanna Colubriale, Township Engineer: “We received an update from Lumens indicating they anticipate an early October start date and that they are still waiting on materials, see below. I will continue to request updated schedules on their end and inform everyone of any updates or adjustments. I will also inform our contractor of this so they can plan accordingly.”
Lumen now says that “things are progressing the project has been awarded to the construction vendor and is pending materials procurement. Once complete we (Lumen) will provide an ETA.”
Still NO Construction!
Lumen’s contractor (Rhino Cable Services) was contacted regarding schedule for cable relocation.
The engineer informed the BOS that they are waiting on one utility to give them the “all clear,” then they will begin construction. Construction is anticipated to take one month.
I’ll believe that when I see it!
Meanwhile, the BOS consensus was in FAVOR of having the Township’s contractor APCON remove the cones, barrels, and backfill. Many residents have requested this and have even taken matters into their own hands and moved barrels.
Supervisors authorizes re-mobilization and backfill work required to remove the traffic protection devices until the utility relocation is complete. Charge for “Backfilling of Curb and Sidewalk”: $800.
As of January 22, 2023, the relocation of underground cables is nearly complete. However, there are still cables sticking out of the ground (at Frost Lane) and construction materials, traffic cones, etc. up the road plus new mysterious street markings.
According to an email sent to supervisors by Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale on 4/10/23, “Lumens completed their relocation work last week. Our survey crew is assisting the Township Contractor APCON with their survey layout, which is occurring today and tomorrow. Our crew and APCON will be on-site together this week.
“It is my understanding that shortly after, APCON will start up construction again. I am still working on finalizing their schedule with them now, and as soon as we have it we will share.”
“The Township Contractor plans on returning to the site to finish construction mid-May 2023.” In an email to supervisors, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale, said “I spoke with the Contractor for the trail project and their status for returning to the site.”
“It is my understanding that shortly after, APCON will start up construction again. I am still working on finalizing their schedule with them now, and as soon as we have it we will share...What we're going to do is issue them a letter more or less getting their contract time to start again and then once we do that there are other avenues that we can take within the contract. There's provisions of them returning to the site and completing things within certain timelines.”
Supervisor Mack said “It's all about the Benjamins. I don't know what the timing is on this, but I know they periodically submit payments due. If these come in the summer, I hope those bills are not paid without the township first taking a look at them even though we have this new resolution about paying bills when the we're not in session.”
17 MAY 2023
Two lone “workers” seen on Lower Dolington Road taking measurements. I don’t know if this is the beginning of the contactor recommencing the real work on the trail that was halted over a year ago, or if it’s just some kind of ruse to make it seem that real work on the trail will soon begin!
Further up the road I saw a pile of large tubes and a pile of gravel. I am not sure if this material is intended for use on the trail.
18 MAY 2023
The Video below shows work being done installing underground rain water retention basins and pipes connecting them from Frost Lane to Everett Drive. Click on subtitles button [cc].
20 July 2023
It’s been several weeks since work re-commenced on the Lower Dolington Road (LDR) Trail after a year’s delay due to a underground “cable issue.” I thought it would be a good time to show the progress made as of June 25, 2023. I did a walking tour and took photos that I review in this presentation.
25 June 2023
Most of the work on the trail itself has been completed. On this date it was observed that metal guiderails were installed at two locations: (1) 200 L.F. stretch just north of Stanford Place/Road (see image) and (2) 400 L.F. stretch just north of Everett Drive.
Some residents were surprised that more appropriate wooden guiderails were not used as opposed to metal ones, which seem more appropriate for major highways where cars travel much faster than the 35 MPH limit of Lower Dolington Road. There was also the issue that these ugly guiderails were not in keeping with the country/rustic appeal of the area.
Note that the estimated cost of the metal guiderails according to a recent payment document (here) is $93,100 whereas the cost of wooden guiderails was estimated to be $24,000 (see original estimated cost document).
The complete timeline is embedded below. You can also download the PDF file.
Posted on 18 May 2023, 12:37 - Category: Development