Lower Macungie RR crossing to close for repaving

Posted: 9:16 AM EDT Nov 02, 2012

The Schoeneck Road railroad crossing in Lower Macungie Township will be closed for a week so Norfolk Southern Railroad can repave the crossing.

Township officials do not yet know when the crossing will be closed. But they do want Norfolk Southern to post signs at the crossing at least a week before the closing.

Acting township engineer Alan Fornwalt said Norfolk Southern wants to do the work as soon as possible but added that depends on the weather. “If it continues to stay cold they’re probably not going to be able to it before winter starts,” he said.

At Thursday night’s township meeting, Fornwalt said a detour plan has been developed, using Scenic View Drive and Alburtis Road to reach Route 100.

Because at least 700 homes are just south of that crossing between Alburtis and Macungie, township officials also will encourage Norfolk Southern to send letters to nearby residents before the crossing is closed.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, it was announced proposed sewer fees for 2013 will increase by 10 percent. Commissioner Ryan Conrad said the fixed quarterly charge will increase from $43 to $47.50 and the variable rate will go from $1.05 to $1.20 for every 1,000 gallons.

Township Manager Bruce Fosselman said those changes will mean an average $25 a year increase in sewer fees for township property owners. He said sewer fees last increased in 2010.

Commissioners may take action on the fees as well as the proposed 2013 budget, which contains no real estate tax increase, during a public budget workshop meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 19. Final adoption of the budget is scheduled for Dec. 20.

Up to 300 township residents who currently aren’t paying their sewer bills will have their water shut off later this month if they don’t pay up.

Cassandra Williams, township finance director, said those residents are being given one last chance to pay before their water is shut off. She explained they already have gotten letters and phone calls that they owe the township money.

She explained shut-off warning tags will be put on doors of delinquent customers and they will receive letters beginning next week, giving them 10 days to pay. “This should be happening before Thanksgiving,” Williams told commissioners.

At their next meeting on Nov. 15, commissioners intend to vote on approving two major new ordinances—one regulating open burning and outdoor fires, the other regulating tree harvesting for commercial purposes. Both proposed ordinances contain steep fines for violators.

Another proposed ordinance to be considered Nov. 15 would approve installing a stop sign on Birch Street at the intersection with Butternut Lane in the Ancient Oaks neighborhood.

On Thursday, commissioners approved a four-year labor contract with its 19 public works employees, who are represented by the Teamsters union.

The contract includes 2.9 percent annual wage increases but the employees agreed to contribute more to the cost of their health care. The township also has cut its pension contributions for new hires by 50 percent and “significantly” reduced the amount of sick leave for new employees. The workers will receive one additional personal day.

The union ratified the contract Wednesday night.