By Richard L. Gaw
When it is completed sometime next year, the Kennett Pike Bikeway Project will convert 1.6-miles of scraggly side roads through Kennett Township on Route 52 into smooth bike lanes. The pathway to beautification, however, has hit a few road bumps along the way for those heading up the project, and last week was no exception.
In a presentation to the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors on Sept. 16, members of the Kennett Pike Bikeway Project Committee informed the supervisors that they have decided to reject the bids they have received for the construction of the project, in favor of re-tooling it design and re-bidding the project in four to five weeks. The Committee, headed by John Haedrich and Tom Nale, received bids from four contractors on Aug. 15, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). The lowest, a $682,000 bid submitted by Highway Materials, Inc., was rejected by PennDOT, due to the fact that PennDOT representatives stated that if Highway Materials, Inc. were awarded the contract, that they would sub-contract 50 percent of the work to another firm.
As a result, Highway Materials, Inc. has submitted a lawsuit against Kennett Township.
Factoring in the lawsuit, Haedrich and Nale met with township solicitor Robert Adams and representatives from PennDOT last Friday, and determined that there were three options the township could pursue. The first would be to accept the Highway Materials, Inc. bid, the upshot of which would be that PennDOT would eliminate the $743,000 it has agreed to contribute to the project. The second would be to accept the lowest bid – submitted by Scott Building Corporation at $799,348.35 – while at the same time addressing the lawsuit. The third – which was agreed upon -- would be to reject the entire first line of bidding, adjust the scope of the project with Urban Engineers, the engineers for the project, and re-bid the project in a few weeks, pending approval of the revised package by PennDOT.
“We will have to work with our designers, because we have to re-scope the job. And make the case that we are removing some scope from the project, such that it justifies re-bidding,” Haedrich said.
The re-bidding will delay the project four to five weeks, which estimates that new bids will be available in November.
The Kennett Bikeway Project is now in its eighth year of a development plan targeted toward beautifying the 1.6-mile stretch of the Kennett Pike within the township's boundaries – extending from the Fairville Road area to the intersection of Kennett Pike and the Baltimore Pike. The Project will include the addition of a five-foot shoulder area beside both northbound and southbound lanes, a bike / walking path, and improved landscaping that will further beautify this historic byway. In addition, the future plans also call for a similar pathway along the Baltimore Pike that connects from Kennett Pike at Hamorton to Longwood Gardens, a distance of nine-tenths of a mile.
When completed, the byway will serve as an important link in the overall beautification of Route 52, one that not only connects Downtown Wilmington with Longwood Gardens, but also encompasses a Figure 8 loop of the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway that winds its way through seven townships in southeastern Pennsylvania, from Kennett and Pennsbury Townships to as far north near Marshallton. The Kennett is part of the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway Commission, made up of representatives from Pennsbury, Pocopson, East Bradford and Chadds Ford townships.
This delay is not expected to affect the construction of the bikeway, which is anticipated to begin in 2014.
In response to a small group of township residents who have recently complained to the township about excessive noise coming from a Kennett Township-based motorcycle touring company, the township has declared that the business is not permitted to be located in the district it exists in, and that it is required to go before the township's Zoning Hearing Board in order to be permitted – or not permitted – to continue business operations.
RetroTours, located on Fox Fell Drive and owned by Joel and Lynn Samick since 1985, offers motorcycle enthusiasts the opportunity to embark on weekend road trips throughout the year, aboard any one of the several dozen custom motorcycles the business owns. During that time, the company has conducted tours ranging from 400 miles to over 2,000 miles. It has conducted six tours so far this year, to West Virginia, the Susquehanna River, Central Pennsylvania, as well as a local loop and a custom tour.
“This is a case of a true commercial operation,” Township Zoning Hearing Committee member John Haedrich said. “The township relies on the residents and interested parties to challenge the use more than the township challenges the use. I would encourage the township to mount their own investigation and case, because the residents may not be willing to put out the costs in defending the township's residential zoning.”
The hearing is expected to be held sometime in the next 30 days.
In other township business, Township Manager Lisa Moore said that the Penn's Manor development on Old Baltimore Pike is nearly complete, and the roads are anticipated to be paved in the next few weeks.
The board approved the appointment of township resident Tom Schorn as a member of the township's Business Advisory Committee.
In her manager's report, Moore said that the The Marshall Bridge Road project to repair the stream bank adjacent to the road will be going out to bid within a few weeks, and is anticipated to be completed by the end of Fall. The awarding will be given to the lowest bidder in November.
“Is there a need to push this through this year?” Supervisor Scudder Stevens asked Moore. “If the weather begins to get wet and cold, will it impact the quality of the road work? Will we have to live with the consequences of that if we rush?”
Moore said that in the event of poor weather, the project to repair the stream bank will be postponed until next year.