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Support beam to be installed under bridge

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003

Cecil officials are worried that a little bridge along Hahn Road could cause big problems, and they've called for emergency repairs before school buses begin using it again.

While the 1920s-era bridge in the Hendersonville section remains strong enough to carry most traffic, contractors within the next week are expected to install a support beam underneath the span. The work is to cost about $18,500. Township supervisors are to discuss permanent repairs costing between $50,000 and $200,000 at their Sept. 18 meeting.

"From the surface, you can't tell the failing portions of the bridge," said Don Gennusso, Cecil's director of public works. "Underneath, it needs additional shoring or support so the structure doesn't collapse."

The bridge is about 18 feet long. Gregory Engineering and Construction has been hired for the emergency work, but the permanent repairs -- including replacement of the cracking stone abutments -- will be done by the township public works department.

The bridge can handle vehicles weighing less than 2 tons, Gennusso said. That means most daily traffic won't tax the structure. After the temporary fix, the bridge will safely handle vehicles weighing up to 10 tons, he said.

Gennusso wants to have the immediate repairs completed before school starts Sept. 8. About seven school buses -- each weighing about 7 tons -- will travel the tree-lined, bumpy Hahn Road each school day.

Lee Schafer, school bus coordinator for Canon-McMillan School District, said he isn't concerned about buses using the bridge because public works officials have told him the bridge as is will last at least two more years.

Increasingly, commuters appear to be using Hahn Road as a shortcut between Cecil and Peters, Gennusso said.

Township officials said closing the bridge was not an option because of concerns about emergency vehicle access to Hahn Road. The supervisors also decided that imposing a 5- or 10-ton weight limit would not be effective because there is no way to enforce that around the clock.

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