VIDEO: Beams put in place for new Rt. 345 bridge

Crews assist as ranes lift huge beams into place for the new Route 345 bridge, which spans the Schuylkill River between Birdsboro and Exeter, Thursday, July 18, 2013. Approximately 20 onlookers watched in the Thursday afternoon heat. (Photo by Mike Keaveney)

Construction workers began putting the beams for the new Route 345 bridge in place Thursday. The delivery and installation of the beams caused traffic backups along Route 422 east near Route 345 at various times on Thursday.

The bridge links Birdsboro with Route 422 and crosses the Schuylkill River on the western side of the borough.

The project has caused detours on Route 724 for tractor-trailers, forcing them to find alternate routes starting as far east as North Coventry, and pushing the heavy trucks onto side, residential roads.

The current Route 345 bridge was considered to be Pennsylvania’s most structurally deficient bridge out of a list of 4,774 bridges. It is still safe to drive on and is open to traffic while the new bridge is constructed alongside it. The new bridge is expected to open in June 2014.

The estimated cost of the project is $15,817,827, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Related Story: Multiple bridge construction projects impact businesses, school bus routes

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