A bridge too far… Condition of Weaver Road Bridge growing concern for Denver borough

By on May 20, 2015


Bob Getz, leader of the Weaver Road Bridge citizen’s advisory committee, sat in front of Denver borough council May 18 to discuss the results of a study concerning Weaver Road Bridge, which crosses Cocalico Creek near the beer distributor on Main Street, and Henry Schein Inc., on Weaver Road, which is a worldwide medical supplies distributer.

The bridge is a metal through girder type and the year it was built is unknown.

Photos by Michele Walter Fry The rusty bridge deck is an issue.

Photos by Michele Walter Fry
The rusty bridge deck is an issue.

“The bridge has a weight restriction with a possibility of condemnation,” said Getz. “One of the primary concerns is that we have only one bridge across the Cocalico Creek that will accept all types of traffic. If that bridge were to break, we would have virtually no way of servicing the people on the other side of the creek that are part of the borough.”

“Emergency vehicles could not pass,” Getz said. “Response times would be longer due to detours. That makes it even more critical. If the bridge were to go, then we’d have a real catastrophe. We’d be split in half.”

Getz, a senior, has been talking to council about this bridge for decades, starting in 1985. Every time it was brought up with various approaches to address the bridge problem, it died in progress about every seven years. Now it seems a rush item.

“Maybe softening the curve down around my tennis courts, maybe just softening that a little bit,” said Kerry Kegerise, who restored and renovated a property on one side of the bridge. “Especially, a lot of the young people coming from high school, that curve is very dangerous. I can’t tell you the three years I’ve been there how many times I’ve replaced the fence and the trees that they go right through.”

Getz was successful in getting council to vote unanimously in favor of preparing the application for getting it on the county list of bridges that are in need, but moving to the head of the list could take possibly take years.

A perspective of the Weaver Road Bridge.

A perspective of the Weaver Road Bridge.

“If the Fourth Street bridge goes, we’re done, we’re in big trouble from a public safety standpoint and otherwise,” Getz said. “You know that. Let’s not forget that and let’s do it (get on the list)!”

“It’s a big safety factor for the kids coming in South Fourth Street to go to school every day,” Getz said, noting the bridge is closed to trucks not buses. “You guys really need to step up to the plate, in my opinion, right now.”

Even if Weaver Road Bridge gets on the bridge list, finality of the project could take up to 12 years.

Recently, council hired Rettew Engineering to do a study. Rettew found four options concerning the realignment of Weaver Road and the replacement of the bridge, and included brief descriptions of the alternatives, conceptual plans, and cost estimates designed to aid the borough in pursuing federal aid funds through Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). If the project is funded through TIP, the time frame for the project to begin is anywhere between seven and 12 years.

“If we look at it from a standpoint of getting federal and state involved in this process, we’re looking at 10 years down the road,” Getz said. If you funded the project on your own, you could probably turn it around in three years and the cost would be half, maybe.”

If the borough goes the state and federal route, the “best case scenario is seven years, but could be 12 years or longer to go through all the formalities.”

Even if Denver gets federal and state monies, there “will still be a municipal component of about $650,000 based off of $3.2 million.” On its own, the cost would be about $2.2 million.

Rettew’s Plan 4 made the most sense to the committee, and is most favorable to affected neighbors and businesses.

“You’ve showed me the four different options and I think out of the four, this addresses for everyone in that area,” said Kegerise.

“Having the 18-wheelers on Weaver Road is bad enough. I’m understanding that this would kind of go up behind the dam area, is that correct, and the trucks would bypass Denver and go right into Henry Schein? It will also allow the original mill to its property from the 1700s to remain intact, retaining the integrity of our historical properties and diverting the trucks from Main Street.”

Another problem has been thrown into the problem. The bridge project is on the East Cocalico Township and Denver Borough line.

“A lot of this project seems to be taking place in East Cocalico,” said citizen Fred Wagaman. “Have they been engaged as part of this because I didn’t hear them mentioned?”

“You didn’t hear them mentioned and I’ll be very specific and tell you why,” Getz said. “The minute East Cocalico came to the meeting, we got to talking about the maintenance issue and the project itself. We were told: 1. We don’t want any part of maintenance in that. 2. We have enough on our plate right now where we don’t want to be bothered with a project like that.”

Wagaman looked over the blueprint of Plan 4 given to audience members.

“It looks like from this, looking strictly at the line, just the intersection is in Denver and everything else is in East Cocalico. I’m trying to figure out how we can spend the monies to build something in someone else’s community.”

In Denver borough financial news:

Dan Ensinger, auditor with Weinhold, Nickel & Co., presented an overview of the 2014 audit report. Barb Artz, borough treasurer, and Mike Hession, borough manager, are responsible for handling the monies.

“Mike (Hession) is very proactive in trying to get a lot of state funding in here as it’s available,” said Ensinger. “He’s a great grant writer and has brought in thousands, millions, probably, of dollars, to the borough here. He’s a key part to some of the success to some of the various projects they got whether it be downtown street improvements or recreation area improvements.”

Auditors sometimes find internal control deficiencies in municipalities.

“We didn’t find any,” Ensinger said. “We didn’t have any issues with anything.”

The borough is out of debt and is starting fresh after paying off its $210,000 portion of its obligation the troubled intermunicipally owned 1975 N. Reading Road property that was sold in the past few months at a loss for all partners. Ensinger described that the bulk of the borough’s revenue is coming from taxes.

“If you look at the charts I’ve provided, you can see that’s where most of your dollars are coming from,” Ensinger said. “Realistically, as you’re going through, whether it by improvements within the borough, or police services you’re going through, that’s going to be the area where you’re going to have to draw to fund those things.”

Ensinger pointed out a positive turn in the borough’s financial status.

“They have been matching their water and sewer costs with their expenses,” said Ensinger. “Over the past few years, they’ve been trying to keep a cap on those rates. They had been climbing and it steadied out this year. Keeping pace with the cost of sewer treatment and that’s one of the largest fixed costs they have.”

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