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Plan accordingly Rt. 272 bridgework between Ephrata and Akron set to begin April 8; will have lane closures
By: TIFFANY WOODALL AND ANDY FASNACHT Review Staff, Staff Writer
Motorists can expect lane closures as early as April 8 while construction crews finish the bridge removal project along South Reading Road (Route 272) at the abandoned Conrail Railroad just north of Steinmetz Road.
PennDOT Spokesman Mike Crochunis said flaggers will be in place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning April 1, as a temporary traffic signal is erected. The lane closures will be controlled using a setup similar to what was used at the recently completed bridge replacement project along Route 272, near the former state police barracks and what is currently in place along Route 272 approximately one mile south of the traffic signal at Reamstown. The temporary traffic signal will remain in service for approximately three months dependent on weather conditions and work progression.
"They’ve been working since October out there to fill in the area that’s the abandoned rail line," said Crochunis. Crews will be filling in the void that the 76-year-old bridge spanned and building up the roadway, which will extend over the pre-cast concrete archway that’s in place, leaving a walkway or path below.
"They need to pave the roadway and do some reconstruction work there, and the signal will assist in that to alternate traffic on one half of the structure," said Crochunis. Traffic will first be restricted to the southbound lane as half of the bridge is demolished and the northbound lane is reconstructed; traffic will then use the newly reconstructed northbound lane as the remaining half of the bridge is demolished and the southbound lane is reconstructed. Following reconstruction, the temporary traffic signal will be removed and motorists will be directed by flaggers between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. as contractors finish paving the roadway. Completion is expected by the end of June.
David Burkholder, engineering project manager for Ephrata Borough, the municipality where the bridge is located, was asked about the traffic decision and the impact it may have for drivers come April 8.
"The temporary traffic signal is installed in lieu of a planned detour route," Burkholder said Monday. "The realization was made that large trucks and tractor-trailers would likely not be able to navigate most proposed detour route(s) and that most municipally-owned and maintained streets are not constructed to handle the volumes and weights of daily traffic traveling on 272."
According to Crochunis, an average of 21,300 vehicles travel this stretch of Route 272 daily. Burkholder said peak (rush) hour traffic will likely be heavily impacted on weekdays between 6 and 8 a.m. and again between 4 and 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. He was asked if he could make recommendations for motorists looking to avoid long delays.
"I’m not suggesting any alternate routes due to the multi-jurisdictional factor," he said. "Typically the local motoring public finds their way around long-term obstacles such as this one, which should alleviate anticipated congestion through the temporary traffic signal."
The linear trail which will eventually connect Ephrata, Akron and Warwick Township will continue progressing following the installation of the culvert below the bridge.
Once it connects into Akron after the bridge, the trail will continue following the old railroad grade, turning in a more westerly direction and extending to Main Street. It will connect via a wooden staircase constructed by a local Boy Scout as part of his Eagle project in 2011. Later phases of construction will extend the trail further west to the Warwick Township municipal campus, where it will connect with the Lititz-Warwick trailway, which extends to the east end of Lititz.
The trail will be 10-feet wide, lined with benches and feature shoebox lights every 120 feet. It will be mostly level, with a two-percent grade in most locations, going as high as four percent just east of Fulton Street.
Abel Construction Company Inc., of Mountville, was awarded the $1,288,128 contract for the project. In addition to the installation of a concrete arch culvert, removal of the bridge and reconstruction, the contract includes guiderail installation and new traffic lines. More BRIDGE, page A16