Tuesday, December 4, 2007

High (Gay Street) Bridge finally scheduled to come down in 2008

Coincidentally, anonymous, the Phoenix carried an article about the high bridge in today's editon.

New bridge greenlighted


By Laurie Perini, lperini@phoenixvillenews.com

The elderly Gay Street Bridge, long a subject of community concern, has been slated for replacement in 2008. PennDOT announced it had awarded a contract for the work on Monday.

PHOENIXVILLE — Long-awaited repairs will begin on the Gay Street Bridge, Route 113, sometime in early 2008 for a bid of $17.5 million.

The state Department of Transportation opened bidding for the project on Thursday and they have an apparent low bidder, Nyleve Bridge Corporation of Emmaus, with a bid of $17,537,681.20.

“We’ve opened the bids in the bids in Harrisburg and the bids have been reviewed,” said PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum.

The project, demolition and reconstruction of the 83-year-old bridge should begin in early 2008 and should be finished by late 2009, early 2010, according to Blaum.

“It’s a very large bridge. People say two years — that’s a very tight time to remove such a massive structure,” he said.

Though new traffic patterns will be established while the bridge is closed, the repair will be worth the possible added traffic.

“It’s definitely going to create a short-term problem,” said Borough Council Member Kendrick Buckwalter, but he said that it would be important for safety.

“It will be safer for pedestrians because one side is currently closed for safety. It [the repair] is actually a couple years late in coming.”

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim Cooley is also concerned for the safety of residents.

“It definitely needs to be repaired. There’s no question,” she said. She recounted how she took 85 photographs as well as a 3-foot section of the bridge with rebar in it, which had fallen onto the road below, to a meeting of local and county officials, as well as a representative from the governor’s office, back in March 2005.

“I said, please give this to Governor Rendell,” she said, adding that the next day, the protective nets that are currently under the bridge went up.

“If a car was under the bridge [when that piece fell], or a person, they’d be dead.”

Blaum explained that the bid is not final yet and must go through an evaluation to ensure that it conforms with all federal and state specifications.

After the contract is awarded, the Nyleve Bridge Corporation will do a preliminary study before shutting down the bridge.

When the bridge closes, there will be separate detours for cars and trucks because the car detour sends vehicles under an overpass that is not acceptable height for a truck detour.

Cooley said that she hoped the detours would help, not hurt, downtown businesses.

“We may see an even better effect,” she said, explaining that people who normally pass Bridge Street to go straight over the bridge will now have to come downtown. “It could be awesome.”

“What’s been happening downtown” has already caused added traffic, she said, referring to new businesses moving in. “The longer they sit [in traffic], they could notice a business they’ve never seen. This could be the greatest thing.”

A timeline for closing of the bridge as well as a more detailed timeline for demolition and construction will be available in the next few months as the bidding process is finalized.

Before the bridge is closed, some off-site operations to help with traffic flow need to be completed by PennDOT.



*Note: Thread suggested by "anonymous" originally posted to blog.


Karen said...

Hard to believe that this bridge is finally being replaced.

Brad Weidner, former Republican North Ward Council President was the first champion of replacing the Gay Street Bridge back in the 1990's.

Brad worked hard to get an early schedule for demolition, but the wheels under PennDOT's approval of the same must have been mired in some pretty deep muck.

It's rather satisfying to see an approximate time schedule for the bridge to be replaced after all these years.

Speaking to the length of time for reconstruction, it would be beneficial if an incentive was included in the contract for an early and quick construction as we had with the construction of the Phoenixville/Mont Clare bridge.

If an incentive wasn't included, shame on all parties involved.

Oh, I think Brad should have the honor of imploding the existing bridge.

Wayne Oleski said...

So what is the lastest on the Gay Street bridge? I see it's closed, but it looks like they are working on it. I thought they were imploding it.

I don't get the Phoenix, so I apologize if it was in there. I live in Birdsboro, but come through Phoenixville a few times a week.

If they are still imploding it, is there a date for that? I would like to be there for that.

Karen said...

Hello, Wayne Oleski from Birdsboro!

Are you and your family originally from Phoenixville? If your parent's names are Wayne and Carole, please give them a big hello from me!

The bridge will not be imploded. It is currently being deconstructed, piece by piece.

Although not as dramatic as an implosion, the removal is still an awesome sight.

On your trip through the borough drive behind the family dollar store and park in the back parking lot. You'll get a great view of the demolition process.

Bring your camera!

Wayne Oleski said...

Yes, I am the Wayne Oleski who's Mom and Dad are Carole and Wayne. My Dad passed away in 1998, but I will tell my Mom you said hello.

I lived on Cherry Street in Phoenixville for most of my life. I used to play hockey with Jim over at St. Ann's school parking lot and then at Mont. Cnty. Comm. College. I just moved to Birdsboro after I get married.