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Connellsville's Francis Avenue project could begin in fall

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Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 9:30 p.m.

The long-awaited Francis Avenue reconstruction project, funded by 2013 Community Development Block Grant money, is expected to begin this fall in Connellsville.

Connellsville Redevelopment Authority on Monday night awarded a $138,480.60 bid for the project to Morgan Excavating of Belle Vernon contingent upon Connellsville City Council allocating up to $40,000 from liquid fuel funds to make up the projected shortfall in CDBG funding.

It reportedly was the only bid received for the project, which is expected to begin later in September or October.

Four potential contractors picked up bid information but did not bid on the project because they were concerned they could not complete the paving before the season ended.

Michael Edwards, the authority's executive director, said $115,000 was available in 2013 CDBG money for the project, but $15,000 was already allocated for engineering costs.

As a result, Edwards said the authority has about $100,000 left for the project, which was $38,480.60 less than the authority needs.

“If city council votes to make up the difference, we can go ahead with the project,” Edwards said, indicating that time is very important because hot patch is only available until November, depending on weather conditions.

“We need to get the road construction project started as soon as possible if we want to have it completed before the weather turns,” he said.

Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln and council members Tom Karpiak and Greg “Mattie” Ritch told authority members that council will discuss the funding issue at Tuesday's meeting.

“We can't make any promises, but we will take this to council,” Lincoln said. “We want to make sure that this project gets completed because the lower part of Francis Avenue is in horrible condition. It's a main road in Connellsville, and we need to get it fixed as soon as possible.”

The project calls for paving the lower end of Francis Avenue to the Jefferson Street intersection.

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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