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Old 03-03-2021, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Raleigh
11,760 posts, read 9,146,199 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
Certainly. Estimated cost vary widely. But there remains several problems
(1) certification for emergency vehicles, electric and telecommunication repair trucks, fuel trucks, repair trucks, delivery trucks
Seems that's the contractor/engineers responsibility to make sure it can support a propane truck (probably the heaviest load)
(2) the private road leading 405' to the state highway intersects at a non-regulation intersection which is dangerous
(3) the owners of the 405' private lane would prefer that it go back to being private land
(4) fixing the bridge means that we are liable for an accident involving dozens of neighbors who would use the bridge for a short cut.You could be, but so would the contractor/engineering firm you hire; they have a vested interest in not building things that fall down.

Right now ownership of the bridge remains in contention, but once we replace it, we have essentially claimed ownership and with it liability.
It seems you either claim the ownership, if you force the township to "own it" they're going to charge you very dearly for the privilege.
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Old 03-03-2021, 12:23 PM
 
12,237 posts, read 12,586,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManApplet View Post
Regardless of when the current structure was built, or if there was a predecessor, someone owns. Did you discover anything in the tax records? There should be old assessment records going back to the inception of property taxes there. We have them here. The bridge should show up on something. If a municipality built it, you are likely off the hook.
We have searched tax record into the 19th century when they were handwritten. I doubt very much it was built by a municipality as they keep very good records. Another bridge, built 1842 only a few hundred yards away is maintained by the county and its history is well documented by the historical society

Quote:
Built: 1842
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
This mid-nineteenth-century bridge on Macada Road crosses over the Monocacy Creek, linking Hanover Township and the City of Bethlehem. The bridge is a 4-span structure with semicircular arches. It is constructed of semi-coursed rubble with smooth ashlar voussoirs. The north side has rounded stone buttresses and a stone retaining wall toward its west end. A steel expansion with a pedestrian lane was added in 1959. There are concrete retaining walls and one concrete approach wall on the south side. Ruins of a stone pier sit in the creek.
HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:
Significance
In its original form, "Northampton County Bridge No. 95" was a handsome crossing of the Monocacy Creek between Hanover Township and the City of Bethlehem. It is an example of stone bridge construction, a method chosen for three centuries of Pennsylvania's transportation history. Stone bridges were common in the southeastern and southcentral portions of the state where native stone was readily available. The County began construction of this bridge on Macada Road in May of 1842: the bridge was completed in the late fall of 1843. Joseph Santee administered the project. David Zeller, D. W. Butz, James McKeen, and Thomas McKeen were the contractors. A steel expansion with guard rail, added in 1959, compromises the integrity of the original structure.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ManApplet View Post
I am not yet clear on the parcel east of the bridge. What are we calling that? What does that easement look like. Is any part of the bridge in the RR ROW? Does the RR own or have a ROW? What documentation exists about the RR crossing the road or vice versa? Date the RR was installed?
The railroad was built in 1867. The oldest detailed map from the railroad I have found is from June 1919. It indicates the private road as a "farm crossing. The tracks are roughly 12 yards from the edge of the bridge and the tax maps indicate that the railroad owns the land right to the edge of the bridge.

A single owner owns the entire private land leading to the State Highway and it's been in the family since 1914, Their deed says they own land leading "to a point on a private bridge across the creek".

We don't know how the railroad can own to the edge of the bridge and the property owner can own to the a point on the bridge. Our lawyer says 19th century property ownership can be a mystery.

The easement across that property was signed in 1930 but it contains no mention of maintenance at all. Nor does it mention a bridge or the railroad. It seems that the buyer in 1930 wanted a legal document instead of the handshake agreement that had been in place for a century.

--------------------------------------
There is a law in Pennsylvania that says if a road is openly treated as a road for 21 years, then a municipality can say it is pulbicly owned road and it doesn't matter what prior deeds or claims are raised by individuals.It is formally known as taken a road by "perscription" instead of by "dedication". So a municipality is protected against private individuals.

But the inverse of the law is not valid. Individuals cannot claim that the municpality openly treated a road as public (i.e. plowed it from snow, drove emergency and police vehicles plus trash trucks over it), but the individuals cannot easily claim it is a public road by perscription.

Last edited by PacoMartin; 03-03-2021 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 03-03-2021, 12:44 PM
 
7,958 posts, read 10,327,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
There was a formal easement signed by the industrialist who owned the West end from 1919 to 1930 and built the second home. He signed the easement days before selling the ~100 acres in 1930 which stated the passage had been informally used since 1830. But that easement only conveys the right to traverse the land, and does not mention any agreement about maintenance. If it did mention maintenance (especially if it mentioned the bridge explicitely) this discussion would be radically different.
Unless stated otherwise, the Grantor of an easement has no obligation to maintain the access provided through such easement. It is entirely the Grantees (users) obligation to maintain the access. You are too focused on the fact that the bridge may have not been specifically mentioned. That is a losing argument since the bridge is a requirement of the road. You can't have the road accessing the properties without the bridge. It is part and parcel of the road.

Where i agree with you is the fact that access obligations weren't mentioned in a number of deeds subsequent to the original one. That should have been the case. From a practical matter, however, the Township isn't really concerned that deeds may not have been appropriately written or that the purchasers didn't realize that the bridge was not maintained by the Township. From the Township's perspective, if they get involved with repairing the bridge they have two choices: assess the people who benefit from the bridge or pay for the bridge from the taxes from the entire Township. The Township could likely avail themselves to state and federal gas taxes (often distributed through Counties and to Townships). Your task, if you seek to keep the bridge, is to persuade the Township that any assessment should be made community-wide, primarily because it would be an undue burden upon the local neighborhood residents.

From looking at the street views from Google maps, I would think that the neighbors would prefer to keep access to the east since it is quite a drive to the main thoroughfare to the west. If the neighbors are fine with closing the bridge, simply seek that alternative. It will be much cheaper to remove it than to build it anew.

Concerning the private drive from the bridge going to the east, who paid for paving that section of the roadway, including the asphalt pavement on the bridge? Did the local neighbors chip in to pay for that? If so, how was it apportioned? If the Township happened to pay for it, that would be another argument to show that although the Township may not have officially turned that into a public road, their actions were viewed as such and therefore it should be their responsibility. (I don't see the intersection as a tremendous hurdle, safety-wise.) As I mentioned before, if you're going to get off the hook for paying for repairs, the best resolution appears to be a political one.
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Old 03-03-2021, 04:36 PM
 
12,237 posts, read 12,586,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
Concerning the private drive from the bridge going to the east, who paid for paving that section of the roadway, including the asphalt pavement on the bridge? Did the local neighbors chip in to pay for that? If so, how was it apportioned? If the Township happened to pay for it, that would be another argument to show that although the Township may not have officially turned that into a public road, their actions were viewed as such and therefore it should be their responsibility. (I don't see the intersection as a tremendous hurdle, safety-wise.) As I mentioned before, if you're going to get off the hook for paying for repairs, the best resolution appears to be a political one.
That section of the roadway is actually another municipality a city not a township. Since the road was paved in the 1950s the present owner of the property who is in his 70s was a toddler. He assumes it was the City since he can't imagine why his parents would pay to pave a road they didn't use.

I think the City did a number of improvements to the road over the decade, but they won't show me the records without a court order. Never mind the Right to Know Law. In fact since they paved the road, put a sewer line under the road, and built a conduit to try and control floodling, and put the water main under the road, I think they should have accepted the road into their network. But as soon as the lawsuit was filed they stopped maintaining the road until giant potholes appeared. Then they essentially pretend like the previous 60 years of maintenance never happened.

I tried contacting preservation societies about the bridge, but it is a little too ordinary. I also tried to contact the school district about dangerous school bus routes, but the school district has contracted out transportation planning to a private contractor and they won't challenge local government.Unless stated otherwise, the Grantor of an easement has no obligation to maintain the access provided through such easement. It is entirely the Grantees (users) obligation to maintain the access. You are too focused on the fact that the bridge may have not been specifically mentioned. That is a losing argument since the bridge is a requirement of the road. You can't have the road accessing the properties without the bridge. It is part and parcel of the road.

Where i agree with you is the fact that access obligations weren't mentioned in a number of deeds subsequent to the original one. That should have been the case. From a practical matter, however, the Township isn't really concerned that deeds may not have been appropriately written or that the purchasers didn't realize that the bridge was not maintained by the Township. From the Township's perspective, if they get involved with repairing the bridge they have two choices: assess the people who benefit from the bridge or pay for the bridge from the taxes from the entire Township. The Township could likely avail themselves to state and federal gas taxes (often distributed through Counties and to Townships). Your task, if you seek to keep the bridge, is to persuade the Township that any assessment should be made community-wide, primarily because it would be an undue burden upon the local neighborhood residents.

From looking at the street views from Google maps, I would think that the neighbors would prefer to keep access to the east since it is quite a drive to the main thoroughfare to the west. If the neighbors are fine with closing the bridge, simply seek that alternative. It will be much cheaper to remove it than to build it anew.
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Old 03-03-2021, 04:37 PM
 
Location: Wisco Disco
940 posts, read 361,159 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
It would be highly unusual for a bridge to show up on tax assessment records.
You probably know more about PA than me, but around here they assess you for concrete in your driveway. If that is not a public structure I would expect it to show up in the calculations. But ... what happens in PA stays in PA
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Old 03-03-2021, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Wisco Disco
940 posts, read 361,159 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
We have searched tax record into the 19th century when they were handwritten. I doubt very much it was built by a municipality as they keep very good records. Another bridge, built 1842 only a few hundred yards away is maintained by the county and its history is well documented by the historical society


OK, if you chose that no records of municipal cost ever went into the bridge I can't research that. But not being taxed would be odd way over here in flyover land. It is an improvement, or was at one time.
Quote:

The railroad was built in 1867. The oldest detailed map from the railroad I have found is from June 1919. It indicates the private road as a "farm crossing. The tracks are roughly 12 yards from the edge of the bridge and the tax maps indicate that the railroad owns the land right to the edge of the bridge.
indicates is not the same as a deed. Me thinks you need to see a deed.
Quote:
A single owner owns the entire private land leading to the State Highway and it's been in the family since 1914, Their deed says they own land leading "to a point on a private bridge across the creek".

We don't know how the railroad can own to the edge of the bridge and the property owner can own to the a point on the bridge. Our lawyer says 19th century property ownership can be a mystery.
Perhaps the RR does not actually own anything.
Quote:
The easement across that property was signed in 1930 but it contains no mention of maintenance at all. Nor does it mention a bridge or the railroad. It seems that the buyer in 1930 wanted a legal document instead of the handshake agreement that had been in place for a century.
The east property transferred in 1930? OK, so to whom do they grant a ROW/easement? If no one in particular that would be the general public? What stops them from revoking it?
Quote:
--------------------------------------
There is a law in Pennsylvania that says if a road is openly treated as a road for 21 years, then a municipality can say it is pulbicly owned road and it doesn't matter what prior deeds or claims are raised by individuals.It is formally known as taken a road by "perscription" instead of by "dedication". So a municipality is protected against private individuals.

But the inverse of the law is not valid. Individuals cannot claim that the municpality openly treated a road as public (i.e. plowed it from snow, drove emergency and police vehicles plus trash trucks over it), but the individuals cannot easily claim it is a public road by perscription.
I don't think you could be forced to maintain the bridge, because the only reasonable penalty based in the maintenance idea is to lose ROW/Easement. But then what could that prevent you from aside from the bridge since most of it is already picked up by the town, but an owner would have to jump in and claim ownership to enforce. Right now today, who would be in a position to enforce anything about that road in general ( bridge to the west)? What do the official city road maps look like today, the internet stuff shows all municipal everywhere, have those been fluctuating ( other than the museum) ? Do you currently need t use the bridge as only access?
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Old 03-03-2021, 05:15 PM
 
Location: Wisco Disco
940 posts, read 361,159 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
Unless stated otherwise, the Grantor of an easement has no obligation to maintain the access provided through such easement. It is entirely the Grantees (users) obligation to maintain the access. You are too focused on the fact that the bridge may have not been specifically mentioned. That is a losing argument since the bridge is a requirement of the road. You can't have the road accessing the properties without the bridge. It is part and parcel of the road.

Where i agree with you is the fact that access obligations weren't mentioned in a number of deeds subsequent to the original one. That should have been the case. From a practical matter, however, the Township isn't really concerned that deeds may not have been appropriately written or that the purchasers didn't realize that the bridge was not maintained by the Township. From the Township's perspective, if they get involved with repairing the bridge they have two choices: assess the people who benefit from the bridge or pay for the bridge from the taxes from the entire Township. The Township could likely avail themselves to state and federal gas taxes (often distributed through Counties and to Townships). Your task, if you seek to keep the bridge, is to persuade the Township that any assessment should be made community-wide, primarily because it would be an undue burden upon the local neighborhood residents.

From looking at the street views from Google maps, I would think that the neighbors would prefer to keep access to the east since it is quite a drive to the main thoroughfare to the west. If the neighbors are fine with closing the bridge, simply seek that alternative. It will be much cheaper to remove it than to build it anew.
why would they be on the hook for removal of a bridge they do not own?
Quote:
Concerning the private drive from the bridge going to the east, who paid for paving that section of the roadway, including the asphalt pavement on the bridge? Did the local neighbors chip in to pay for that? If so, how was it apportioned? If the Township happened to pay for it, that would be another argument to show that although the Township may not have officially turned that into a public road, their actions were viewed as such and therefore it should be their responsibility. (I don't see the intersection as a tremendous hurdle, safety-wise.) As I mentioned before, if you're going to get off the hook for paying for repairs, the best resolution appears to be a political one.
How are they on the hook unless they chose to maintain it ... I see this being about trying get others to pay or pitch in.
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Old 03-03-2021, 05:24 PM
 
7,958 posts, read 10,327,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManApplet View Post
why would they be on the hook for removal of a bridge they do not own?

How are they on the hook unless they chose to maintain it ... I see this being about trying get others to pay or pitch in.
They may or may not be on the hook to pay for anything. If the Township chose to remove the bridge--or to repair the bridge--they could establish a special assessment district and charge those landowners the costs involved. That type of thing happens all of the time. It's unlikely that the Township would just allow the bridge to crumble and fall into the creek...although that's possible.
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Old 03-03-2021, 05:27 PM
 
7,958 posts, read 10,327,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
That section of the roadway is actually another municipality a city not a township.
That complicates matters even further. Good luck, because I think you're going to need it.
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Old 03-03-2021, 05:59 PM
 
Location: Wisco Disco
940 posts, read 361,159 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
They may or may not be on the hook to pay for anything. If the Township chose to remove the bridge--or to repair the bridge--they could establish a special assessment district and charge those landowners the costs involved. That type of thing happens all of the time. It's unlikely that the Township would just allow the bridge to crumble and fall into the creek...although that's possible.
I haven't seen any engineering analysis yet, but what threat does the bridge represent if not in use? even if it fell down? The RR may worry. but it would probably be a long time to failure. How could the town assess anyone other than the owner, if they deem the removal necessary for the public good? who is that?
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