Should Denver’s North Fifth Street bridge be removed?

By on July 25, 2012

By: ALICE HUMMER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Pennsylvania Turnpike officials met with Denver Borough officials on July 6 to discuss consideration of removal of the North Fifth Street bridge.

"The Pennsylvania Turnpike is looking at five bridges in the state they’d like to eliminate," borough manager Mike Hession, told Denver Borough Council on July 9.

This action would cut down on maintenance costs for the turnpike in the future.

"The turnpike talked about a possible one- time payment to the municipality," Hession said.

Several council members expressed concerns with the Fifth Street Bridge being the major artery for the more than 200 homes just north of the bridge. It’s used by fire apparatus and ambulances as well as school buses.

The Sixth Street Bridge, while geographically close, could need to be closed due to an accident, fire or an event on the turnpike below the bridge.

Entering the residential development off Sixth Street requires negotiating narrow Elm Street, which could impede response time for emergency vehicles and jeopardize public safety.

North Sixth Street also has a hump by Juniper Street which limits visibility.

Turnpike officials discussed the possibility of the Turnpike Commission and PennDOT working together to address some of the traffic safety concerns expressed.

"I’m not opposed," said Mayor Adam Webber, "and I’d want to be fairly compensated."

While President Walter Fink thinks the bridge serves several essential purposes, he said he’d be willing to listen. Councilmen Mike Cohick, Mike Gensemer and Nathan Grubb were opposed to losing the bridge.

Council agreed to continue the bridge discussion at the July 30 meeting when all council members are present.

In the interim, traffic counts will be done, and contacts made with emergency services and the Cocalico School District. Hession said he’d also like traffic counts after school starts.

Representing the borough at the July 6 meeting were President Fink, Councilman Grubb and Hession. Representing the Pennsylvania Turnpike were Gray Graham, James Stump and John Boyer.

In other business:

? Council moved another step closer to getting the borough’s polling place changed from the Denver Fire Company to the Denver Borough Hall’s new meeting room.

Election officials toured the municipal building and were satisfied with the proposal. An official letter from Denver Borough Council will request action from the Board of Elections. The meeting room in the former borough building was too small to accommodate election equipment and voters; hence the move to the Denver Fire Company.

? The Evergreen Street Project started July 10. Construction work then moves to Franklin Street.

? Council approved Cocalico Plumbing and Heating’s low bid of $4,496 to replace a heat pump in the municipal building that "died."

? Police Chief George Beever informed council that Officer Gail Sizer was voted Crisis Negotiator of the Year by her peers in the SERT (Special Emergency Response Team) unit.

? County Commissioner Craig Lehman will attend the July 30 Denver Council meeting.

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