The Cumberland County Commissioners have approved eminent domain as a potential part of the Craighead Bridge replacement project in South Middleton Township.
“We are in the right-of-way acquisition process,” planning director Kirk Stoner said. “Eminent domain isn’t the course that we are pursuing at the moment. We are trying to work amicably with our property owners to reach an agreement to secure the needed right-of-way.”
Stoner said a resolution was needed in case agreement could not be reached.
Craighead Bridge carries Zion Road over the Yellow Breeches Creek in South Middleton Township. It was closed in 2013 because of structural deficiencies.
The resolution, which was unanimously approved Thursday, allows the county to use eminent domain on one property on both sides of the creek.
Stoner said both plots of land are a little more than one half of an acre each.
“This isn’t taking anyone’s home or anything is it?” Commissioner Jim Hertzler asked during Thursday’s meeting.
Stoner said it would not, saying that the land needed was only being used to line up the existing road with the new bridge.
“They are actually what they call strip takes,” Stoner said. “They are strips of right-of-way that are needed to realign the road and realign the bridge.”
The new bridge is being located slightly to the west of the current structure, requiring the county to acquire new right-of-ways, according to Stoner.
Action was taken Thursday at Stoner’s request so the project could remain on its current timetable.
“Our hope is that we don’t have to use eminent domain,” Stoner said. “We want to have the mechanism in place if we have to use it ... (This) enables us to authorize the tool. We are currently working our property owners. We are hoping with can reach an amicable agreement with all of them.”
Stoner told the commissioners in October that the construction on a new bridge should begin in 2016.
The current bridge was constructed in 1899.
According to the county’s website, the project is expected to cost about $2.5 million.