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Building bridges

By Staff | May 11, 2016

This is a virtual drawing of the Rapid Bridge Project and what the bridges will look like when completed in 2017. Two bridges, one on Dark Hollow Road and the other on Green Valley Road will be part of the project partnering with PennDot and Plenary Walsh Keystone Parnters.

HUGHESVILLE – This time of year motorists slow down for road construction projects, many of which started for safety reasons. One of those projects is the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Rapid Bridge Replacement. A public outreach meeting was held earlier in the spring in the Wolf Township building to view some of the area’s preliminary projects.

Two major bridge projects are underway and construction is projected to be completed in 2017.

They include the bridge on Dark Hollow Road in Penn Township that runs over Big Run, and the other is on Green Valley Road in Moreland Township over Sugar Run, one mile north of Lairdsville. The bridge is old, built in 1924 and needs replaced.

Both of these bridges are being designed and built according to guidelines under the National Environmental Protection Act reported Andy Dressler, the assistant manager for these projects who represents the PA Walsh Granite, a Keystone Partner that has been hired to work with project engineers.

He presented a video overview of the project, explaining how it works, and other projects already established through PennDot who awarded the contracts. One of them was the bridge on Rt. 44 in Washington Township, and several in the State College region where the company is headquartered. Others have been in Pittsburgh and Allentown.

Assistant project manager, Andy Dressler from Dauphin County and his assistant came to Wolf Run Township to give an overview of the bridges which are in the preliminary construction phases.

Altogether, the company will complete 558 deficient, aging bridges in the state to be completed by the end of 2017. Many of these are in smaller, rural areas rather than interstate bridges, and will be prioritized by PennDot.

To keep costs down, all of the bridges are made with the same materials, parts and beams and design elements for uniformity. “This will save tax dollars and minimize traffic impacts,” said Dressler. “This has been the largest Pennsylvania contract award costing 899 million.”

He added, “There is a 25 year guarantee on every bridge.” Packaging these bridges under one contract will allow Walsh Granite to pre-purchase a large amount of construction materials at once. “This allows cost savings and effective cost dollars and they are built to withstand weather conditions. We have about 70 under construction right now with 81 scheduled yet.” Ten of them are in Lycoming County.

“Part of the funding will come from Act 13 monies,” said Charley Hall from Rep. Garth Everett’s office. “This is a private-public partnership, and the project boosts PennDot along in their scheduling. I think we will see more of this in the future.”

Currently preliminary steps are being taken to achieve right-aways, design and traffic control such as the two bridges here in this immediate area. Construction is staged with a stop sign and controlled by temporary traffic signals. “We anticipate a summer detour of 11 to 12 miles for the Green Valley Road closure,” Dressler added.

After the bridges are built, Walsh Granite will maintain them for 25 years, especially the infrastructure. Dressler said he sees no major impact with these bridge projects and answered questions from affected residents.

In order for him to avoid the 5 mile detour, property owner Tom Crawley who attended the presentation and lives on Green Valley Road, says he sees no problem with the project as he knows the back roads and shortcuts to get to his home which is the first driveway past the bridge on Beaver Lake Road.

“Safety and quality come first,” Dressler explained and addressed that public information, concerns, questions and answers can be addressed to him at adressler@walshgroup.com. More information on the progress of the bridges can be found at www.PARapidBridges.com.

Dressler will continue to coordinate resources among the municipalities, especially if it affects traffic, school bus routes and impact for residents.