POLAND — Poland village will move forward with its plans to repair the Mauthe Bridge under the condition that the bridge deck be widened by three inches.
The recommendation was made by a federal attorney evaluating whether the repair design must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The bridge in the Poland Municipal Forest has been closed since July 2018, after a review deemed it unsafe.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the committee overseeing the bridge repair approved the recommendation to widen the deck. Immediately following, village council awarded the contract to Murphy Construction, which priced the project at $86,500 before design revisions.
In describing the revisions to the design, MS Consultants project manager Gary Diorio offered the option of adding an ADA-compliant ramp to the design.
"That will be easy to add on later," if deemed necessary, Diorio said.
Councilwoman Martha Morgan asked why the question of ADA compliance wasn't resolved earlier in the repair process.
"I think other council members — Mike Thompson — might have mentioned that it didn't need to be ADA compliant, because of the trails not being ADA compliant. They're natural trails," Diorio said.
Councilman Michael Thompson, who is an attorney, explained at a meeting in July that everything on both sides of the bridge is accessible. He said when it comes to wilderness areas, ADA compliance is required where public lands offer programs and services.
"It is a historic structure, where to try and make it ADA-compliant is economically infeasible," Thompson said in July.
At Wednesday's meeting, Morgan said, "I'm not going to beat this into the ground, but I think the reality is this question got raised a long time ago."
The repair project stalled when a complaint was filed claiming that the repair design must comply with the ADA. After the complaint was filed, a U.S. Department of Justice attorney met with Councilman Mike Thompson and Solicitor Jay Macejko, Mayor Tim Sicafuse confirmed.
When Poland Forest Foundation President Charles Rumberg inquired about the status of the repair, officials were silent. After multiple attempts to seek answers, Rumberg resigned Nov. 7.