A handful of local residents and business owners came to a community information meeting held by PennDOT at the to get more information on the impending .
The $6 million project is expected to close the busy and structurally deficient bridge, which crosses the Neshaminy Creek and connects Lower Southampton and Middletown, for about one year, beginning in Spring 2013, according to PennDOT.
The meeting was mostly populated with owners of businesses on Maple Avenue closest to the nearly 60-year-old bridge, whose businesses are likely to suffer from the road closures and detours.
“This is going to affect business,” said Jim McGovern, owner of . “I’m concerned Maple Avenue will become a ghost town.”
Bill Shulski, owner of Feasterville Auto Body, whose shop is located on the Lower Southampton side of the bridge for more than 30 years, worries that business might drop off during the project.
“A lot of my customers are on the [Middletown] side of the bridge,” Shulski said.
McGovern and Shulski were told by Chris Stanford, the project manager, that signs alerting motorist that the businesses near the job site will remain open during the reconstruction will be displayed. Signs detouring motorist will also be in place to a help people get to where they want to go.
Maple Avenue traffic will be detoured onto Bristol Road, Brownsville Road and Old Linclon Highway until the new 31-foot-wide span opens, according to documents from PennDOT. Traffic signals along the detour routes will be adjusted to better handle the 11,000 cars that usually would commute on the West Maple Avenue Bridge.
Stanford said the project is designed to be built with prefabricated bridge sections, which are expected to cut down on construction time. He added weather and other factors can also cause construction delays.
When finished, the new bridge, that is expected to last 100 years, will feature two 11-foot-wide lanes and two expanded shoulders, both between four and five feet wide.
The expanded shoulders were incorporated into the design due to the fact that the current bridge is often used by pedestrians, Project Engineer Cather Farrell said.
However, no sidewalks will be placed on the bridge because there are no walk ways - on either side of Maple Avenue - to link them to, Farrell added.
The project planners said the new bridge will also keep the same arch-style design but take advantage of new construction techniques that require annual bridge maintenance by PennDOT.
Residents or business owners with additional questions are urged to contact PennDOT at 610-205-6700 or State Representative Frank Farry’s office at 215-757-6750.
For an aerial view of the bridge and detour and project information, visit the Lower Southampton Township website's project page.