NORTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP >> If you’re tired of dodging potholes and cars on the one lane road Worthington Mill Bridge there’s hope on the horizon.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to replace the state-owned span, which links Northampton and Wrightstown townships.
During a public open house on April 3, PennDOT officials detailed plans to replace the weight-restricted span, which carries about 2,500 cars per day over the Neshaminy Creek.
Using a series of diagrams set up inside the meeting room at the Northampton Township Municipal building, project leaders briefed residents and elected leaders on the estimated $7 million project, which will take up to four years to complete - two years in planning and design and one to two years in construction with a bridge opening in 2022.
The agency is planning to replace the existing 240-foot two span timber decked bridge with a 263-foot, three span pre-stressed concrete bridge that will accommodate two lanes of traffic.
The project will extend the approaches to the bridge by about 175 feet to west of the structure and 200 feet to the east of the structure. That will require some minor right-of-way acquisition, according to PennDOT.
As a traffic calming measure and to retain the country feeling, the two lanes crossing the new bridge will be on the narrower side, each measuring 10 feet wide with two foot shoulders on each side.
Any aesthetic treatments of the substructure and bridge parapets will be discussed in the final design phase of the project, said PennDOT officials.
During construction, the Worthington Mill Road Bridge will be closed and traffic will be detoured via 2nd Street Pike and Swamp Road. Access will be provided to adjacent property owners.
According to the agency, the bridge, which was built in 1954, is rated in poor condition due to the deteriorated condition of its concrete deck and steel superstructure.
Among those attending the event was State Rep. Wendi Thomas who came to hear what residents had to say.
“I’m hearing that residents don’t necessarily like it becoming two lanes, but with the modifications that are being made like narrowing the lanes it’s better. But they would like more steps to slow the traffic down,” said Thomas. “We just don’t want people racing down that road.
“The other concern would be truck traffic and we’ll be having follow up discussions on that with PennDOT,” said Thomas. “We will be working with the township and with PennDOT to see what we can do to relieve the worries.”
Township manager Bob Pellegrino said the majority of residents he has talked to along Worthington Mill Road seem to favor a two lane bridge for safety reasons, especially for the school buses using the bridge.
There’s also a cost factor involved for the township if the bridge were to remain one lane.
Pellegrino said PennDOT is willing to replace the bridge with a one lane span, but only if the township agrees to take ownership and future maintenance responsibilities of the bridge when it’s complete.
“That’s very expensive,” said Pellegrino. “So the board here has said it’s not going to do that. It’s a PennDOT Bridge. We don’t want to take ownership of it because we don’t want to saddle our residents with continued maintenance responsibilities.”
Pellegrino said the township did talk to PennDOT about narrowing the lanes over the bridge down to 10 feet in each direction as a form of traffic calming, which PennDOT agreed to do.
“That has a tendency to slow down traffic down,” said Pellegrino, noting that originally PennDOT had planned two 12 foot lanes. “We told them that doesn’t work for us. We need to slow traffic down. And they agreed.”
With regard to truck traffic, Pellegrino said the township has not yet had that discussion with PennDOT.
“I personally think that decision can be made later on,” he said. “They might design it for truck traffic, because they want to get emergency vehicles over that bridge, but as far as truck traffic is concerned I think they should consider not allowing Quarry trucks to go over it.”
Pellegrino said residents who have questions or concerns about the project should email them to him. He will then pass along any concerns and comments to PennDOT and the board of supervisors.