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Reid's Bridge closes for repairs

Susan Prasse

(5/20) Unexpected damage to Reid's Bridge has left township officials little choice but to close it down. Because steel beams under the bridge grate have rusted away, it cannot be relied on to carry the weight of such vehicles as fire trucks and school buses. While temporarily closed in April, the supervisors voted at the May 5 meeting to close Reid’s Bridge until it is replaced. They will begin the process of engineering, permitting and funding the bridge, which will be a concrete box culvert, with two traffic lanes.

Supervisor Chairman Robert Gordon said, "We’re going to have to explore every (funding) option, and this may delay next year's project. Road work plans had included repairs to the bridge on Hickory Bridge Road, but the cost of replacing Reid's Bridge likely will cause that work to be postponed.

Gordon said the least expensive fix ($80,000) would be to make the bridge one-lane, but he noted that Penn DOT will not permit an existing two-lane bridge to be converted to a one-lane structure.

The cost to replace the entire bridge with another steel grate structure will likely cost about $280,000 Township engineer C.S. Davidson, stated that a new steel grate bridge would require the complete removal of the existing bridge, the concrete abutments, and specially treating the grate and support beams to prevent massive corrosion that has resulted in the closure.

Including permits from Penn DOT and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the cost is estimated at $175,000. A special DEP permit is required as the bridge crosses Tom's Creek, which is categorized by DEP as High Quality; the only higher water quality category in the commonwealth's system is Exceptional Value. Replacing the bridge will take just under a year to complete.

Township supervisors will begin looking at funding options, some of which likely will come from the township's capital reserve fund, possibly to be repaid from the township's liquid fuels tax allocation. Gordon said about $150,000 may be available as a loan from the state infrastructure bank, at 1.625 percent.

The bridge’s closing adds to school district transportation expense and hinders emergency response. Gordon noted the first thing done after the closure was to reassign the fire companies. Typically, Fountaindale would be first called to respond to Mount Hope Road, coming over Iron Springs Road, across Gum Springs Road, and then turn across the bridge onto Mount Hope Road. The box cards have now been changed to make Fairfield Fire Department the first called for fire or other emergencies on Mount Hope Road.

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