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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. 

 

Related Stories:

  • Lower State Road Bridge to Close Monday
  • Bridges to Trouble: Lower State Road
  • Doylestown-Area Drivers Face More Delays
Denise Boecklen December 05, 2012 at 12:32 PM
A lesson learned, I hope. Next time no catering to the contractor. Get a contractor that meets our needs and get it all in writing. There are contractors that would have made this a top priority. I too watched week after week, month after month when no one was working on the bridge. Excuses can always be made when something is not getting done. But the right contractor for a job with his priorities in the right place for the job will get it done. That's my opinion.
kevin December 05, 2012 at 12:56 PM
PENNDOT hires eckman for all their bridges, and all their bridges sit untouched for months and months, it's crazy. a bridge on kellerschurch rd sat closed and untouched for so long that plumstead township and fire department had to complain to the state because fire trucks were having to take crazy detours to get to calls
Lisa Lucci December 05, 2012 at 01:09 PM
This is a complete joke. If I were a small business owner in Doylestown I would make sure that my voice was being heard loud and clear. I can assure you that this has hurt your business. My neighbors and I in Warrington no longer make the "quick trips" into town that we once did to the establishments that we used to visit multiple times a week; getting there is just too cumbersome. For 3.5 MILLION dollars you would think that this little bridge would be at the top of the Contractor's "to-do" list. If it is not finished as promised, regardless of the date on the contract, then Eckman should never be awarded another county contract again
June Goodwin December 05, 2012 at 02:17 PM
We don't know the whole story. PENNDOT could have been dipping into the Lower State Road Bridge fund to cover unplanned contingencies during the 202 build and the contractor slowed down construction. Or the contractor was detailed to finish other more critical projects. Or the Delaware Riverkeeper's paper needs. Now the 202 bypass is finished, traffic is being redistributed evenly on other heavily transited roads - I already see less cars on 611S at 8 am in the morning compared to the past 12 months when it was a virtual parking lot. I predict the bridge will be completed by Feb 28, 2013 depending on weather. Hope those guys have some common sense to pile dirt on both embankments to allow dirt to be packed tight while the concrete cures and then the men work on erecting forms for concrete walls along the bridge.
Brad Hedrick December 05, 2012 at 08:15 PM
In the meantime, why can't they cover the two STOP signs, since there is no traffic turning onto the bridge.
Bonnie Freeman December 05, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Stop procrastinating and finish the damn bridge already Eckman! So sick and tired of not being able to take the back roads home from work. You've had long enough! On the other hand though I'm glad the ball is finally rolling again.
Anita Peters December 05, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I have walked down there many nice days over the summer and fall, and have seen a lot of standing around and coffee drinking.
Jeff Lugar December 06, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I was miffed by that at first, too, but I'll bet they want us to stay in the habit of stopping there. Someone will stop, the person behind won't notice the stop sign was reinstated, and there'll be a nasty rear-end crash.

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