Drivers beware: bridge work will alter traffic

By on March 14, 2012

By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff, Staff Writer

Construction crews will begin installation of a temporary traffic signal on March 15 at the first of two bridges to be replaced on Route 272 between Ephrata and Reamstown.

Work will be completed on half of the bridges at one time so that traffic will be restricted to a single lane with the alternating directions of traffic controlled by the signals. But even before the first traffic signal becomes operational over the Cocalico Creek in East Cocalico Township, residents of Ephrata and East Cocalico townships and Ephrata Borough may be wondering how the construction will affect their travel.

According to Michael Crochunis, PennDOT spokesman, for motorists’ convenience, PennDOT will post signs for an alternate route around the bridgework by way of Spur Road and Routes 222 and 322 in East Cocalico Township. This is not an official detour but a suggestion of routes to use.

"The signs won’t be posted until the signal is fully operational," said Crochunis.

It is not yet certain when the traffic light will be installed for the second bridge, over the railroad tracks in Ephrata Township, but Cruchunis said that it will likely be installed on the heels of the other one.

Although normal construction hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., the lanes will be restricted around the clock.

Mark Hiester, the manager for East Cocalico Township, said that in addition to PennDOT offering suggested alternate routes for motorists, the township has posted signs that say ‘no trucks.’

"We have been posting signs on a lot of the local roads to keep the heavy trucks from damaging the pavement on the roads," he said. "They ( the trucks) are going to have to find state routes such as Line Road, Church Street or Route 222. Those roads were made for trucks."

Hiester’s suggestion for other motorists: "If you know the back roads, use them."

D. Robert Thompson, the manager of Ephrata Borough, said that since PennDOT is detouring from a state highway they must use other state highways for the detour.

"At this point we don’t know how this may or may not impact the borough," said D. Robert Thompson, Ephrata Borough manager. "I do not see us posting ‘no trucks’ as we would need to enact an ordinance to do so and we can only restrict for weight and size of vehicles," explained Thompson.

In Ephrata Township, the board of supervisors also considered the impacts to township roads due to the bridge work.

"We had our engineering firm do a study of Mohler Church Road but the board decided to wait and see if the bridge work creates negative impacts on our roads before deciding to prohibit trucks," said township manager Steve Sawyer.

Both bridges are existing steel I-beams, originally constructed in the 1940s, and are considered structurally deficient. The $3,747,008 contract includes demolition of the existing structures, construction of a new concrete bridge over Cocalico Creek, replacement of the bridge superstructure and repair to the concrete substructure over the old East Penn Railroad, roadway reconstruction, drainage improvements, guide rail installation and new traffic lines. More BRIDGE, page A18

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