Construction begins this week on the Hay Creek Bridge on Main Street in Birdsboro. The project is expected to last through May 2013, bringing detours and possible traffic delays for motorists. The message from borough officials is: slow down and obey posted signs.
Signs went up last week, warning motorists about the project, and PennDOT crews began their work Sept. 11. The bridge, originally built in 1958, was found to be structurally deficient and in need of replacement. The project is expected to cost $1.27 million. The contractor is Clearwater Construction.
Traffic will be detoured around the construction area, and Borough Manager Aaron Durso said he expects most of the traffic will use First Street. However, there will be no truck traffic allowed on First Street, except for local deliveries.
'We passed an ordinance restricting truck traffic and it will be enforced heavily by the police department,' Durso said. 'I don't think we'll have issues with local drivers; maybe some from out of the area might try to push it.'
First Street has been recently repaved, and Durso said the borough is looking to protect that work by restricting truck traffic on the roadway. Trucks are required to use Route 422, and Durso added that Route 422 should be the preferred route for any motorist looking to drive through Birdsboro.
'There will be congestion in the borough. Drivers just passing through Birdsboro will add to it and slow the time,' he said. 'Route 422 will be the path of least resistance.'
The Main Street bridge replacement is the first of two major road projects in the borough. The second one is the new Route 345 bridge across the Schuylkill River. Preliminary utility work for that project has already begun, and Durso said he expects the Schuylkill River bridge project will bring additional traffic issues.
'We know it's going to be 14 months of serious traffic. We know that, but then we'll have two new bridges,' he said. 'There will be temporary inconvenience for long term solution. We understand they will be frustrated. It will impact us all and be frustrating for all, but the end result will be good for all of us.'
Durso said that any closures and detours will be fully marked by PennDOT, and if residents have any issues they should contact Borough Hall. He acknowledged there may be some 'hiccups' with the plan initially, but that the borough will work with PennDOT to quickly resolve them.
'We try to make this as painless as possible,' said PennDOT spokesman Sean Brown. 'This is a bridge that really needed to be replaced. It's better to have the money to do the project than to have the bridge closed or restricted for some time. It's a man-made structure, so there will eventually be problems. And at the end of this process, Birdsboro will have a new bridge.'