Large crowd previews plans for bridge in Derry
PennDOT intends to keep two-way traffic flowing along the Route 217 railroad bridge in Derry during construction of a new bridge, tentatively set to begin in 2015.
That news pleased more than 120 citizens who attended a meeting the state held in the borough Wednesday to provide an update on the project, estimated to cost between $12 million to $15 million.
Some residents expressed concern about pedestrian access to the bridge, which serves as the only authorized route across the Norfolk Southern Corp. tracks that divide the borough.
Several borough officials said they are pleased traffic will not be interrupted on Route 217 during construction.
Plans call to award bids in December 2014, with construction to begin the following spring. During work in 2016, traffic would switch to the new bridge to allow for demolition of the structurally deficient bridge that is being replaced.
“By building a separate bridge and keeping the old bridge open it's going to definitely keep Derry going,” said Mayor David Bolen. “This bridge is the only way you can get from north to south, other than going to Burd's Crossing (a rail crossing) or Millwood” bridge, both in Derry Township.
“You would have had an absolute ghost town if in fact that bridge had been closed down for two years, plus the traffic nightmares,” said council President Randy McCreary. “We wouldn't have emergency services on both sides of the bridge without that bridge. The delays would have been unbelievable.”
PennDOT's plans call for improved access from the new bridge to the former Porcelain Park, an abandoned industrial site along West Third Street that is being reclaimed by the Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County.
That section of West Third will be raised about 10 feet to intersect with Route 217, which will be lowered about 4 feet from the existing bridge level.
McCreary said the reconfigured Third Street will make the property more attractive for development. “They're going to have an open access right off Third Street, plus a controlled intersection to get up and down,” he said.
According to PennDOT's preferred plan, the new bridge will follow a new path, about 100 feet west of the current span. Three residential properties will be displaced at the north end of the bridge, where the highway curves from Leo Street onto West Owens Avenue. In total, some portion of 19 properties will need to be acquired, planners said.
Jim Cowan, a former councilman, wondered whether the new bridge could handle traffic that would result if a company with a large number of employees came to the Porcelain Park site.
Rachel Duda, assistant district executive for design with PennDOT District 12-0, noted the bridge design allows for left-turn lanes at the Third Street intersection. If traffic at the site eventually exceeds that design, the redevelopment authority would be expected to assist with any needed road improvements, she said.
Mitch Raney, president of the Derry Area Revitalization Corp., expressed disappointment that deteriorated concrete stairs, leading from the bridge to the business district, would not be replaced.
Duda said stairs would require an elaborate serious of switchback ramps to comply with modern standards for handicapped access. She said the new bridge would include wider sidewalks, with a safety barrier more than 3 feet high separating pedestrians from the roadway.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hookah bar on tap for Greensburg
- Ex-Milwaukee archbishop told he can’t spend final days at St. Vincent Archabbey
- 3 identified in Route 66 crash near Delmont
- Greensburg pawn shop aids in arrest of home repair scam suspect
- Greensburg man charged with assaulting hospital guard
- PennDOT to stabilize rock slide along Penn Adamsburg Road in Hempfield
- Walker: Latrobe gets ready to welcome Steelers back to camp
- Westmoreland County gets the word out about drug problem
- State grant to aid Excela plans for orthopedic center in Hempfield
- Blaze ravages South Huntingdon home
- Unity zoning board OKs cellphone tower project