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Winfield Road bridge replacement to begin in 2015

| Sunday, April 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
An SUV crosses a 33-foot long bridge along Winfiled Road in Winfield Township on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced in 2016.

The Winfield Road bridge replacement project will straighten the approaches to the span over Little Buffalo Creek and improve the sight distance from two rural roads.

The new, wider bridge will be built to the south of the existing structure in Winfield Township.

Two occupied homes near Grey Avenue will be torn down to make way for the new roadway.

Plans for the $1.6 million project were available for public review and PennDOT officials on hand to answer questions on Wednesday at the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department.

The construction area is about 1,200 feet through the Cabot section of the township. It begins about one mile from the Winfield Road/Route 356 intersection and continues to Frank Avenue.

Traffic will be able to use the existing bridge during construction.

The 33-foot-long bridge has deteriorated to the point that it qualifies for a full replacement, project manager David Layman said.

The structurally deficient bridge was among hundreds for which the state reduced weight limits last year.

“We also looked at the approach curves, which are substandard,” Layman said.

Some construction will be done late next year, but most of the work will be completed in 2016.

Short-term closures — from five to 14 days — may be necessary when the new road is tied into the old one, Layman said.

Mike Roberts, of Winfield Road, who came out to look at the project plans, said he thinks the project is “probably a good thing.”

But he worries the straighter road will increase speeding.

That's one of the concerns that PennDOT heard from public officials as well, Layman said.

Roberts said drivers already break the 45-mph speed limit. He's worried about the safety of those crossing the road to use the nearby Butler-Freeport Community Trail.

“Speed is definitely an issue; the way they come through there is unreal,” Roberts said. “I see kids crossing with their bikes and tractor-trailers going through.”

About 1,800 vehicles use the bridge daily, according to PennDOT data. On average, about 100 trucks cross over the span each day.

Layman said the plans were designed for the current speed limit. He advised residents who see speeding cars after the project is finished to contact the state police, which provide coverage in Winfield.

The new configuration will include areas where police can sit to catch speeders, Layman said. No such areas exist now, Roberts said.

Layman said the new bridge and roadway are being built with 5-foot shoulders to accommodate pedestrian traffic headed to the trail, he said.

“Had it been in another area, we probably would have went with the standard 2-foot shoulders,” he said.

PennDOT is just beginning the process of negotiating with the homeowners who will be displaced by the project.

One of those homeowners, who wouldn't give his name, appeared to take his forced move in stride.

He said his satisfaction with the process will hinge on how much PennDOT offers him for his home.

Layman said contractors won't begin work until the residents are in new homes.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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