by Sue Ann Rybak
More than 35 residents packed a recent Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch meeting to get an update on PennDOT’s plans to replace Allens Lane Bridge over SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West Line.
Michael Holva, project manager for PennDOT, Michael Cuddy, principal at TranSystems; Lee Wolfe, senior project manager at TranSystems; and David Dlugosz, the district traffic engineer from the Streets Department, apprised attendees of the proposed construction project.
Holva said Road-Con, Inc. was awarded the contract for $4,663,350. He said they are still in the “award and execution process” of the construction contract. He said in an email, however, that PennDOT anticipates “granting the contractor notice to proceed in mid-December.” He said the first phase of the project “will involve mobilization, schedule preparation, initial site work, utility coordination, SEPTA coordination, and SEPTA catenary work,” and will not require immediate road closure.
He said the construction project is complex and involves a high pressure gas main, currently attached to the bridge.
“The gas company (PGW) is responsible for making the tie-in and switching over to the new gas main once it is constructed,” he said. “The intent is to reconstruct the bridge without any disruption to the gas service, and any disruption will be dictated by PGW per their policies and procedures.”
While Holva could not give a definitive schedule for road closure dates at this time, he confirmed in an email that Allens Lane (at the bridge) and the intersection of Allens Lane and Cresheim Road (located just south of the bridge) will be closed for about two years beginning in Spring 2019.
He said it is necessary to replace the Allens Lane Bridge in order “to provide a long-term structure which establishes a safe and efficient crossing along a locally important network.”
“The existing substructure built in 1893 and the existing superstructure built in 1908 are in poor condition, which includes cracked concrete encasing of the existing girders, cracking of the masonry abutments, rusted girders with severe section loss and reduced structural capacity,” he said.
The new bridge will consist of reinforced concrete abutments, pre-stressed concrete box beams, a reinforced concrete deck and reinforced concrete bridge barriers, he said.
“For aesthetic purposes, the reinforced concrete bridge barrier will be divided into four sections with two inset panels per section,” he said in an email after the meeting. “The panels will have a texture that creates the effect of four-inch-wide, vertical wooden planks and the framing around the panels will be stained red to match the color used at the Allen Lane Station. The top of the bridge barrier will have a concrete coping and a cap tinted in blue/gray to match the bluestone color on the Allens Lane Station pedestrian bridge roof. The concrete approach barriers will have a Wissahickon Schist stone facing.”
In addition, he said a geosynthetic reinforced slope will be installed parallel to the railroad tracks at the northwest corner of the bridge to stabilize the existing steep slope.
At the meeting, residents voiced concerns about increased traffic while the road is temporarily closed and the noise level of construction. Several residents of Bryan Street suggested that the street be made a one-way street. Dlugosz confirmed in an email after the meeting that Bryan Street will be a one-way street during the project.
Holva told attendees at the meeting that the majority of the construction work would be done during the day and that trains would continue to operate.
Steve Stroiman, a member of town watch association, said in an email after the meeting that “there have been a number of major infrastructure improvements” in the area recently including the Walnut Lane Bridge and Germantown Avenue.
“While they may have caused inconveniences and disrupted our daily patterns during the construction, the end results have contributed to the overall quality of life for everyone,” he said. “The same for the upcoming reconstruction of the Allens Lane bridge. We will endure the temporary upheaval, knowing that all of us will be beneficiaries of a sound and beautiful structure for generations to come.”
Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at 215-248-8804 or firstname.lastname@example.org