COAL TOWNSHIP - Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area Authority (AOAA) members hoped construction of a welcome center would start Monday, but the state has not signed the contracts for the work.

Chairman Jim Backes said PennDOT and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) have to first approve the four contracts, totaling $1.6 million.

"It's a normal process. I don't think there's anything wrong," he said Monday.

Authority member Pat Mack, who is also the Northumberland County planning director, agreed with Backes, saying he wasn't shocked about the delay with such a large-scale project. The two agencies are in detailed discussions about the bids and Mack expects good news this week, he said.

"We're anxious, to say the least," he said.

The authority, which approved the contracts at a meeting on May 21, had listed June 3 as a target date for construction to start. They have cited Sept. 2 as a finish date.

The contracts, which total $1,637,281, were awarded to Paul Risk Associates Inc., of Quarryville, at $1,429,000 for general construction; J.B. Electric Corp., of Minersville, at $92,390 for electrical; Bognet Inc., of Hazleton, at $58,205 for plumbing, and Shannon A. Smith Inc, of Myerstown, at $57,685 for mechanical/HVAC.

Funding is coming mostly from two grants totaling $1.9 million that were awarded by DCNR in 2010 and 2011.

The welcome center will be built at the trailhead just off Route 125 south of Burnside. It will include an administrative building with an office, conference room and three maintenance garages. There will be 75 parking places on a paved lot and 180 spaces on a gravel lot, with additional overflow parking. The area will also include an ATV safety course, benches, lights and signs.

The AOAA authority will meet at 6:30 p.m. today at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center, 2 E. Arch St., on the main floor, for its monthly workshop.