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Route 217 span to remain open while new one is built in Derry

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Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Motorists using the Route 217 bridge in Derry will be spared months-long traffic detours when the state replaces the bridge over Norfolk Southern Corp.'s railroad corridor because the structurally deficient bridge will remain open when the new one is built in 2015, a state official said Friday.

The state Department of Transportation intends to build the replacement bridge about 100 feet west of the existing structure, reducing the disruption that would be caused by razing the bridge and building a new one at the same site, said Sean Sepe, PennDOT District 12-0 project manager.

There will be some traffic disruption when the new bridge is connected to the existing approaches to the bridge, Sepe said. Leo Street is on the north side of the tracks; Y Street is on the south side.

The state will unveil its preliminary engineering plans for the new two-lane bridge during a public meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the A.W. Germano Community Center, 100 Second St., Derry. Community members can review the plans and offer comments, Sepe said.

PennDOT plans to award contracts to replace the 800-foot bridge late in the fourth quarter of 2014, with construction to begin in 2015, Sepe said. The cost has been estimated at $15 million to $20 million, Sepe said.

Derry Mayor David Bolen said PennDOT officials had informed borough officials of their plans to keep the bridge open during the construction.

“We would like to see it done this way. My town won't have to shut down,” Bolen said.

The railroad tracks split the town, with the police station and the Derry Volunteer Fire Department on the south side of the tracks on East Second Avenue.

If the bridge were to close, Bolen said, motorists would have to cross the railroad tracks in Millwood in Derry Township, or Burds Crossing, south of the borough.

Derry is astride Norfolk Southern's main rail line between Pittsburgh and Altoona, which is used by both freight trains and Amtrak passenger trains. Norfolk Southern has said the 349-mile corridor between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh is one of its six busiest for freight volume in the nation.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or

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