By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG — The harsh winter has taken a toll on about 500 feet of new sidewalk placed last year along Chestnut Street, and work begins Monday to repair cracks as wide as a half-inch in some places, officials said.
Prime contractor Don E. Bower Inc., of Berwick, will start removing the damaged sidewalks and curbing in a project expected to last about six weeks, the state Department of Transportation announced Friday.
The extent of damage was realized during a recent three-hour walk-through of borough, PennDOT and contractor officials, Mifflinburg Mayor David Cooney said.
The most damage appears to be in sidewalks that are wider than average. “Some are frightfully obvious as you walk through town. You can tell,” Cooney said.
The cost of repairs is not known but is covered under warranty by the contractor. A phone call Friday to Don E. Bower seeking comment was not returned by deadline.
During the repairs, Route 45 traffic will see lane restrictions and traffic control via channelizing devices and flaggers, PennDOT said.
The contractor will begin at the west end of Mifflinburg at Eighth Street and work toward the east on the south side of Route 45.
Once work on the south side of Route 45 is complete, the contractor will do the same on the north side, working to the west.
“As we got through winter — and it’s been a long winter and the coldest on record — we noticed there were cracking on the new sidewalks,” Cooney said.
Most of the damage is along Chestnut Street, he said.
In December, before the winter that would prove so brutal, Mifflinburg residents who got new sidewalks were told to watch the salt and melting agents used on them. They were advised to remove the substances as soon as they began to work, under advice of the contractor, because such chemicals are rough on concrete and can cause major damage.
The first year, or “cure time,” of a new sidewalk particularly is crucial, borough manager Margaret Metzger said, as the concrete continues to set.
Such advice was moot in dealing with subzero temperatures and relentless snow, Cooney said.
“To my knowledge, salt wasn’t the issue, just the unprecedented cold,” he said.
“The fact this winter was terribly cold and long was a blessing because the sidewalks were all tested in that warranty period,” Cooney said. “If we had three mild winters and then a winter like this one, we’d have been picking up that repair bill.”
The new sidewalks were part of the $4 million Route 45 reconstruction, which started in spring 2013 and ended in late October.