Lower State Road Bridge Finally Getting Attention
The pace of work on the bridge, which has been closed for nearly a year, will increase dramatically, a PennDOT representative said Tuesday.
Doylestown Township isn't going to get a Christmas present for which it had hoped.
The Lower State Road bridge most likely will not be open by Christmas, PennDOT's Mike DiBello told township supervisors Tuesday night.
But there's a chance it might be finished soon after.
"I think you’re probably not to going to see a Christmas present, but you’ll see a New Year’s present," DiBello told the supervisors.
Concrete still must be poured, which will take several days, DiBello said. Then it needs at least a week to cure and harden, he said.
Also called Castle Valley bridge, after the historic name of that part of the township, the bridge that carries Lower State Road over the Neshaminy Creek has been closed for nearly a year.
The contractor hired to fix the bridge, J.D. Eckman, Inc., actually has until June 2013 to complete the project, according to its contract with PennDOT.
But Doylestown Township supervisors said they only agreed to close the bridge completely after being told that Eckman could finish the project in one year. The bridge closed on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.
"Doylestown Township supervisors made a promise to the Doylestown Township people," supervisors chairman Barb Lyons said Tuesday, adding that when she has visited the site, she "didn’t see any indication that the work will be done."
DiBello said Eckman hasn't missed the deadline yet, and assured the supervisors that the pace of work will dramatically increase over the next few weeks.
"They probably didn’t have enough people working out there," DiBello said, adding later, "There’s going to probably be a small army out there very soon."
But that work now depends on whether the weather cooperates. Supervisors said they are frustrated that Eckman didn't take advantage of the nice weather earlier in the year.
"I drive by there every day," said supervisor Ryan Manion. "There were many beautiful days when I said, 'Where the heck are these people?' "
Eckman was hired for the $3,475,417 project in April 2011, and work was supposed to begin then. It was expected to be finished by August 2012.
But the project was delayed when Verizon workers went on strike, officials said. PennDOT couldn't start work until Verizon relocated utility lines in the area. Other area detours for the Route 202 Parkway construction project also pushed back the project, they said.
When the time finally came to begin the bridge project, Eckman asked Doylestown Township for a favor.
"They came to us and said, 'We can get that project done in one year, instead of in 18 months, if you let us close the bridge completely,' " Lyons said after Tuesday's meeting.
The original plan had been to close one lane at a time, Lyons said, but that would make the project take longer.
"The total closure of the Lower State Road will enable the bridge to reopen in December 2012, if all goes as expected," PennDOT said in January.
One township resident on Tuesday questioned what motivation Eckman had to get it done, if the contract with PennDOT gives them until June 2013.
"Is there any incentive for them to finish by the end of the year?" Ken Synder asked.
"Yes, their word to you and to us is on the line," DiBello responded. "We did them a favor, you did them a favor."
Built in 1930, Lower State Road was rated "structurally deficient," with an overall sufficiency rating of just 17.4 out of 100, before PennDOT closed it for repair.
The old bridge was 24 feet wide and 212 feet long. The new structure will be 40 feet wide with two travel lanes and two shoulders.
The bridge carries an average of 13,543 vehicles a day.