Hog Mountain Road project out to bid; new engineering solution found

By Pauline Liu
More than eight months after Hog Mountain Road was closed due to flood damage, the Town of Middletown is preparing to begin accepting bids for its repair. Highway Superintendent John Biruk explained that a construction technique called “soil nailing” will be used to stabilize the landslide on a quarter-mile stretch of the road. He said the estimated cost of the project is between $150,000 and $200,000, which is about half the original estimate. The work can be done quickly. He expects the project can be completed in four days. Biruk made the announcement at the regularly scheduled Middletown Town Board meeting last Tuesday night..

Some residents were pleased to learn that the popular shortcut will be repaired. The 2.9 mile- long road connects county Road 36 in Denver Vega to Big Red Kill Road in Fleischmanns. “That’s so exciting,” said Ellen Fauerbach of Denver. “That’s great. I’m really thrilled to hear that.” She submitted not one, but two petitions with a total of 48 signatures from area residents, who want to see the road fixed. Fauerbach has described the road as her favorite in Delaware County, calling it, “a beautiful drive.”

Biruk admitted he was becoming discouraged, after he contacted two separate engineer firms, which each determined that they could only offer temporary repairs to Hog Mountain Road.  Binghamton-based Keystone Associates purposed using steeling pilings at a cost of $300,000.  Then last month, Roxbury-based Lamont Engineers proposed boring into bedrock and installing I-beams.
Recently, Biruk sought a third option. He contacted Delaware County Public Works Commissioner Wayne Reynolds, who suggested that Biruk take a look at soil nailing. He contacted Soil Nail Launcher, Inc., which has locations across the country. “The guy said this is no big deal,” said Biruk. “When you call an engineer and ask for a fix, they should know how to do it, but they don’t do it (soil nailing) that much around here. It’s been practiced for about 30 years.”

The technique is called soil nailing, because it’s like driving a nail into soil, only steel bars are used. The bars are inserted into drilled holes and grouted into place. The depth of the bars is determined by a geotechnical engineer.

Biruk expects that the town will open the project up for bid this Wednesday, May 16. “We expect to open the bids up for review on Thursday, June 7 and we’ll accept them on Tuesday, June 12 at the town board meeting,” said Biruk.

According to Biruk, Tropical Storm Irene cost Middletown more than $1.5 million, while Tropical Storm Lee caused $552, 000 in damage. Though the cost of the damage is expected to be completely reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and New York State, Biruk said no reimbursement checks have been received so far.

In other news, Beth Bush, who is the project manager for the Arkville Water Upgrade Project, said the district is applying for a $200,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to elevate the pump house on Pavilion Road so that it is three feel about flood level. “We’re going to get more grants, because of the loss of homes and users,” she said. “We’re seeking the USDA Rural Development Emergency Grant which will cover the remaining $200,000, so it will not cost Arkville residents anything more for this project.” The district has 217 customers, consisting of homes and businesses. “We’re reapplying for some additional funding because of the flood,” Bush said. The town board voted unanimously to approve the application of the grant. It also voted to accept a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation for South Central New York for the engineering work to raise the pavilion.

Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller said the town will recommend Joe Kelly of Highmount to the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) Board. Kelly is currently a member of the Belleayre Regional Advisory Group (BRAG) and is also the chairman of the Coalition to Save Belleayre. “The governor has to take our recommendation,” said Miller. “To go against it would be outrageous. Joe Kelly called me about the recommendation and Marty Donnelly (Andes supervisor) lobbied on his behalf.” “I think that Joe is the logical choice,” said Town Board Member Brian Sweeney.

As for last month’s food giveaway, which was held at the town highway garage, about 200 Delaware County families were fed. Miller explained the new program is required to have a sponsoring organization if it is to continue to distribute food and the Interfaith Council has agreed to be the sponsor. She said the food giveaways will resume either in late June or July. The local giveaway was organized by Andes resident Alan Seidman with help from Delaware Opportunities. The food was provided by the Northeast Regional Food Bank in Latham.

And finally, for those who are interested in being a part of movie magic, Kara Janeczko of Belladonna Productions told the town board that the film company will begin filming a feature film this June in Andes and Halcottsville. Janeczko said company is looking for extras for the production, but she didn’t supply any contact information, during the meeting. Two years ago, the company filmed the vampire movie, “Stakeland” in the region.
The next town board meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m.